Employees should feel safe, supported, and able to work well in their Los Angeles, CA workplace. Employers, managers, and supervisors are responsible for ensuring that all employees have a safe and welcoming work environment. There should be rules set in place by employers that determine what interactions and behaviors are appropriate for coworkers so that everyone is protected and kept safe.
That is not the case for all employees, unfortunately. Countless circumstances can make a workplace feel unsafe or unhappy. Injuries, unequal or unfair pay, harassment from coworkers, and more can all impact your work environment. One of the most difficult things that could impact a workplace environment is sexual harassment. In the workplace, sexual harassment may include inappropriate jokes or comments, not awarding an individual with an earned promotion or raise because they refused sexual advancements, unwanted physical contact, or sexual assault.
Any harassment or mistreatment can make a work environment unsafe and unhappy. Dealing with sexual harassment can be particularly difficult and make working all but impossible. An experienced Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney may be able to help if you or a loved one have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. The team at California Employment Counsel, APC, is ready to assist you with any workplace harassment claims.
Harassment and Discrimination in the Workplace
While sexual harassment is a major form of harassment that needs to be dealt with properly, it is not the only type of discrimination or harassment that an employee may face at work. Unfortunately, employees are often mistreated by those in leadership at their workplace. This mistreatment may include unsafe conditions, threats of retaliation if a report is made, unfair or unequal wages, threats against an individual’s job, and more.
It is important for employees to understand what is considered harassment or discrimination in the workplace and how they can respond to this mistreatment. Some forms of discrimination may not be intentionally malicious, and some are simply the result of improper policymaking. Regardless of the intent behind the discrimination or harassment, any instance of mistreatment in the workplace should be handled appropriately.
Categories of Discrimination at Work
Discrimination is any mistreatment that arises from prejudice. An individual may face mistreatment at work because of a protected status such as gender, race, religion, disability, ethnicity, or age. While discrimination or harassment may not always be intentional, it is illegal and should be investigated well.
There are two primary ways that discrimination and harassment at work can be classified. The first is less severe and often has no malicious intent. It is referred to as disparate impact discrimination. While there may be no harmful intent behind the actions, they still cause harm. The other category, known as disparate treatment discrimination, is much more sinister. This type of discrimination is carried out specifically to cause harm or distress to an individual.
A few of the most common forms of discrimination include:
Refusing Accommodations. Some protected statutes, such as disabilities or religious affiliations, may require an employee to use accommodation during their workday. This means that they require some change to the time, format, or type of work they do to accommodate their specific need. This accommodation being refused by a supervisor or an employer is considered discrimination and could be used as evidence in a legal case.
Harassment. This type of mistreatment often deals more with an individual’s interpersonal relationships at work rather than their actual job. Harassment is any treatment that makes employees feel unsafe or uncomfortable in their workplace. This could include hateful phone calls, inappropriate jokes made at someone’s expense, harmful comments, and intentional exclusion from social groups. If this treatment is the result of an individual’s protected status, such as their gender, it could also be classified as sexual harassment and lead to a more severe legal case.
Unfair Treatment. Any number of actions in the workplace could be considered unfair treatment if it is happening because of an employee’s protected status. A worker having their pay docked or their hours cut, being given work that is more difficult than strictly necessary, or being intentionally left out of various activities could all be considered unfair treatment. If an employee can prove that this mistreatment is because of their protected status, they may have a strong legal case for discrimination.
Unsafe Conditions. This is most often an example of disparate impact discrimination. Supervisors and employers may not want to harm their workers with unsafe conditions intentionally. There may be poor policies in place that hinder the safety protocols. While it may not be intentionally malicious, this type of discrimination also needs to be addressed and corrected promptly.
Retaliation. Employees are well within their rights to report an employer or supervisor who is discriminating against or harassing them. In some circumstances, however, the employer will retaliate against the worker. Retaliation may include having wages cut, getting fewer hours, or even being fired. Retaliation is one of the more severe forms of discrimination or harassment and may require legal assistance.
Work should be a place where individuals feel safe, protected, and free to complete their work. Discrimination and harassment in the workplace, particularly sexual harassment, make that nearly impossible. There are several laws in place at the federal and state levels that protect employees from discrimination and harassment of any kind in the workplace. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing primarily oversees these laws. In addition to these protections, individuals who have faced discrimination in the workplace deserve the guidance and support of an accomplished Los Angeles workplace discrimination attorney as they decide the most appropriate course of action for them moving forward.
The Reality of Sexual Harassment
It is not always an easy choice to know whether you should pursue legal action for a sexual harassment claim. If you are not familiar with how sexual harassment is classified, then you may not be sure that what you are experiencing can be classified as sexual harassment. Knowing and understanding the laws that California has in place regarding sexual harassment can give you confidence as you consider legal action.
The state of California defines sexual harassment as any actions, contact, or words of a sexual nature that serve to make an individual unsafe or uncomfortable at work. This may include vulgar communications such as emails, inappropriate comments or jokes made at work, and any unwanted physical contact such as back or shoulder rubs. These actions may have a harmless intent, but the intention does not matter if the outcome was another worker feeling uncomfortable or unsafe. If there is ample and appropriate evidence, a sexual harassment case can be tried.
California law dictates two different aspects that classify an action as sexual harassment. The first component is objective. The objective component argues that anyone who experienced the actions at the center of the sexual harassment investigation would have been offended or upset by it. The subjective component is second, and this is often the more difficult component. In order for the subjective component to be proven, an individual must have evidence that they suffered from emotional distress in addition to suffering from harassment. These two components are used as evidence to prove various sexual harassment claims.
Common Types of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment can happen to anyone in the workplace, regardless of gender, race, sexuality, or age. This type of harassment is a common problem for people in the workplace and should always be handled quickly, fairly, and efficiently. Despite how common sexual harassment in the workplace is, there is not always an easy way to know whether the treatment you are experiencing could be considered sexual harassment. It is important to understand how sexual harassment is classified so that you can more easily protect yourself.
Sexual harassment can be classified into one of two primary types. If you know how sexual harassment is classified, you will be able to identify it more readily and take the proper steps to protect yourself. The two types of sexual harassment are:
Hostile Work Environment. Any action that makes an employee feel unsafe or uncomfortable or keeps them from completing their work successfully would fall into this category. Some of the most common types of sexual harassment that create a hostile work environment are inappropriate jokes and comments, bullying based on gender, unwanted physical contact, and refusal to leave someone alone. Most people tend to be familiar with this type of sexual harassment.
Quid Pro Quo. Sexual harassment, which can be classified as quid pro quo, is not as familiar to some people. This harassment includes instances when an employee is offered some incentive from a supervisor, such as a promotion or a raise, but only if they perform a sexual favor for the supervisor. These cases often involve an implied threat or a blatant threat that the employee will be punished or face some retaliation if they do not perform the requested favor. Quid pro quo cases are severe and should be handled appropriately.
Regardless of the classification of sexual harassment, it is illegal according to California state law. It can be difficult to determine whether you are facing sexual harassment in some circumstances. Understanding how workplace sexual harassment is classified can help you protect yourself and be prepared for a legal case.
It is essential that you notify your supervisor or employer as quickly as possible so that they have an opportunity to respond if you believe you are the victim of workplace sexual harassment. You may need to pursue further legal action if you believe that your case was not given the investigation that it warranted. The experienced team at California Employment Counsel, APC, can help.
Completing a Sexual Harassment Investigation
A sexual harassment case should be handled as carefully as possible due to its sensitive nature if you choose to pursue legal action. All the necessary documentation and evidence will have to be organized efficiently and presented clearly to ensure the most favorable outcome. When evidence is organized and presented clearly, then those leading the investigation will be able to assess and analyze every aspect of the case before making any final decisions. There are three clear phases of a sexual harassment claim in California.
Reporting any sexual harassment to the correct party is always the first step in any investigation. Depending on the circumstances, you may have to make a report to a supervisor, employer, or human resources representative. The initial report should trigger an investigation within the workplace. The leadership should gather all necessary information and evidence, assess the full situation, and make a final determination. When the investigation concludes, the individual who made the initial report has an opportunity to close the matter if they are satisfied. If, however, they feel that the investigation was not handled properly, or they are unhappy with the result, they may choose to pursue further legal action and file a sexual harassment claim with the courts.
Your next step will be to go through the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing to file an official complaint if a workplace investigation concludes and you are not satisfied with the outcome. Once this claim has been filed, this organization will launch an investigation into your workplace and assess whether they handled their investigation correctly. The process will end if it is concluded that your workplace handled the investigation correctly; however, if they discover your workplace mishandled the investigation, you will be given a “right to sue” notice. This gives you permission to sue your employer and will begin the next step of the legal process.
Once you receive a “right to sue” notice from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, you will file a harassment lawsuit against your employer. When a harassment lawsuit has been filed, you will have officially launched the legal action necessary to complete your sexual harassment claim. There are several choices to be made. You can choose to sue an individual, such as the person who harassed you, or you will be able to sue an entity, such as your employer, for not handling the harassment properly. The specific details of your case will determine the avenue you take. A Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney can help you understand the options available to you and make the right choice for your claim.
Proving Sexual Harassment
Many sexual harassment cases are very subjective in nature, meaning that an argument can be made that what you experienced was not actually sexual harassment. In order to argue a successful sexual harassment case, it is important to provide adequate evidence in support of all of your claims. There are several ways that you can ensure you have the correct evidence to support your case.
Understand the Laws. The laws and regulations that determine sexual harassment are not going to be the same in every state or location. If you believe you are the victim of sexual harassment, it is helpful to understand the laws in your area. This will help you to understand how your treatment can be classified and what type of evidence you should gather to argue your claim.
Documentation of Harassment. Keeping a detailed log of any interaction between you and the person harassing you is essential. Make a note of the time each incident occurred, what inappropriate things were said or done, any screenshots, recordings, or written evidence of the harassment, and a list of any witnesses. This will create a clear paper trail that can be followed throughout your case.
Witnesses. If other people are in the area or witness your harassment happen, it would be helpful to ask them for a witness statement. This can serve as evidence in your case and provide additional context for your arguments. Testimony from a third party can also be used as subjective evidence that points to the emotional damage inflicted by sexual harassment.
Evidence of Violated Company Policy. If you are unsure of whether you should proceed with a sexual harassment claim at work, get a copy of your company policy. This will give you a better understanding of how your employer may respond to your claim, but it can also give you more support for a legal sexual harassment claim. A copy of your company’s policy surrounding sexual harassment will give you a clear guide to indicate specific instances or situations when that policy was violated.
It can feel nearly impossible to make a claim of sexual harassment if you do not have ample evidence. Gathering the proper evidence can also be a difficult, emotional, and confusing process. An accomplished sexual harassment attorney will be able to explain what evidence you need, how much evidence may be necessary, and what the potential outcomes of your case may be. The assistance and support of a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney can be an invaluable resource.
How a Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Attorney Can Help
Navigating the legal system can be difficult, especially for those who are not familiar with it. Many steps must be completed in a timely manner, extensive documentation to keep track of, and legal processes must be followed. An experienced Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney can make the process easier by offering three key supports.
Education. An accomplished sexual harassment attorney has dedicated years of their life to learning and understanding the laws surrounding workplace harassment. They work to ensure that they are up to date on any changes in the laws or statutes that may impact their clients or cases. This education gives them the knowledge they need to ensure that they can create the most solid case for each client.
Experience. A Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney with extensive experience will be an invaluable resource as you navigate your claim. An experienced attorney who has worked with a wide variety of clients will have a unique perspective and approach for each case. They have seen approaches that are successful and others that are unsuccessful. Their experience with past clients will help them to analyze and assess the specifics of your case so they can create an approach that will ensure the most favorable outcome for your case.
Guidance. The prospect of navigating the legal system without any support or guidance can be daunting. If you are not familiar with how the system works, it can be overwhelming trying to complete any claim successfully. An experienced sexual harassment attorney can walk you through your entire case and help make the process easier. They will have the knowledge and insight to help you choose the correct course of action. They can provide understanding and support when your claim is particularly difficult and resources to help you file and complete your claim successfully.
Choosing to pursue legal action as the result of sexual harassment in the workplace can be scary. You may face retaliation from coworkers or supervisors, and you may lose your income if you are forced to leave your job. The knowledge, experience, and support of an accomplished Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney can give you peace of mind as your case is processed.
Contact Our Sexual Harassment Lawyers Today
Work should be a place where individuals feel safe, respected, and protected. Any type of harassment is inappropriate and should be dealt with efficiently. Sexual harassment in the workplace is particularly difficult to face because it can be a highly emotional situation. Employers are responsible for ensuring that their employees are safe and responding appropriately to any reports of harassment.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment and it was not dealt with properly when you reported it, taking further legal action may be in your interest. The process of filing and completing a claim of sexual harassment can be overwhelming and time-consuming. An accomplished Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney can guide you through the process and make it easier to face. Contact the team at California Employment Counsel, APC, today for all your sexual harassment claim needs.
Why Speak Up In California
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