Santa Monica Sexual Harassment Lawyer

When you find a new job, it can be an exciting experience. However, few things taint this experience more than experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. At times, this harassment can also lead to wrongful termination, workplace retaliation, or a hostile work environment, among other things. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, Santa Monica sexual harassment attorneys can help.

Santa Monica Sexual Harassment Attorneys

Why Choose Us?

At California Employment Counsel, APC, our law firm understands that experiencing sexual harassment is overwhelming. We operate with compassion when dealing with difficult cases such as these. We can make the process easier for you and help you receive the compensation you deserve. We know that the law is always changing, so it can be confusing, but we can make it clear to you so you can navigate your situation with confidence.

We can advocate for your rights and help you gather all the evidence needed to make a strong case. We believe in working toward a quick and effective trial so our clients can return to their lives. Whatever the circumstances of your case, we can work hard to help provide you with the peace you desire and deserve.

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual behaviors and is often, though not always, based on a person’s gender. This harassment usually creates a hostile work environment for the victim. Sexual harassment is often thought of as coming from a superior in the workplace, but it can also come from a coworker, a subordinate, or even someone who is not technically an employee, such as a client or a contractor.

California Sexual Harassment Laws

In California, sexual harassment is against the law, as it is in most other states. Not only is it forbidden, but employers are required to train supervisors on how to avoid workplace sexual harassment. California recognizes two types of sexual harassment. These are quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment harassment.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is performed by a supervisor or manager or an individual with power over another employee. In this type of harassment, a superior employee threatens a subordinate with negative action, such as a demotion or termination, if they do not perform or allow sexual advantages or offers a work advantage if they do. For example, an employer may threaten his subordinate’s job if she doesn’t agree to spend the night with him.

Quid pro quo must involve an individual who has some sort of authority to affect the victim’s position at work. In cases where sexual harassment occurs from an employee who does not have this ability, such as an equal coworker, it falls under hostile work environment harassment.

With hostile work environment harassment, any employee’s behavior can fall under this category. Hostile work environment harassment does not require there to be the threat of a negative employment decision. It just requires that there is an offensive activity that creates an adverse work environment. The harassment also does not have to be targeted to one employee.

Aspects of a Hostile Work Environment

If an employee in Santa Monica, CA, makes remarks, advances, or statements that generally create a hostile work environment for a person or group of people, it falls under this category. There are certain conditions that must be met, however, with hostile work environment harassment. These requirements include that:

  • The harassment is based on sex. In this context, “sex” means “gender.” Under this definition, the harassment does not necessarily have to be sexual in nature.
  • The actions are unwelcome. In California, unwelcome does not mean non-consensual, so even if a person agrees or goes along with the actions, it doesn’t mean that they are welcome.
  • The actions are offensive to the everyday person. This means that the harassment must be objectively offensive to the average reasonable person if they were in the same situation. When determining whether or not it would be offensive, a court will look at all factors involved, including the victim’s personal history.For instance, if a victim has trauma associated with past similar instances of abuse or harassment, the court will analyze whether or not the victim’s reaction to the harassment in question is offensive to another reasonable person or whether it is a reaction to the harassment they suffered in the past.
  • The actions are so severe that they constitute an abusive work environment. In this case, it is possible that a single act of sexual harassment falls under this category. Generally speaking, that single action would have to be severe enough to warrant an abusive environment, such as a violent sexual assault.However, more often than not, these instances involve repetitive actions that have accumulated over time to create a continuous hostile work environment. An example would be an employer who makes offensive comments about women on a daily basis, making his female employees uncomfortable.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment can take many forms, and it’s important to recognize that any unwanted or unwelcome sexual behavior or advances can constitute harassment. Here are some examples:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances. This includes unwanted physical touch, such as groping, kissing, or hugging. This can also include verbal advances such as sexual propositions or requests for sexual favors, whether or not they are in exchange for another favor related to the job.
  • Offensive comments or jokes. Making sexually suggestive comments, jokes, or remarks about a person’s body, appearance, or gender can create a hostile or uncomfortable environment, whether those comments were meant to be demeaning or not. The comments target an individual or involve a whole group.
  • Showing inappropriate material. Showing or sharing sexually explicit images, videos, or other material in the workplace or other professional settings can be considered harassment. The images can range from offensive and suggestive materials to ones that are pornographic in nature.
  • Intimidation or coercion. When a person uses threats, intimidation, or pressure to coerce someone into sexual activity or to tolerate sexual advances, it is a form of harassment.
  • Inappropriate online sexual behavior. Sending sexually explicit messages, emails, texts, or social media messages can also be considered harassment, especially if it creates a hostile or uncomfortable environment for the victim. This is still the case even if the messages were not sent during work hours.
  • Generally creating a hostile work environment. Constantly engaging in or initiating behavior that makes others feel uncomfortable or intimidated due to their gender or sexual orientation can contribute to a hostile work environment, even if the behavior is not directed at a specific individual.

Ways to Report Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment, although historically believed to only occur to women, can happen to anyone, regardless of gender. Fortunately, employees are protected from this kind of behavior. If you are experiencing sexual harassment at work, there are a few actions you can take that can help to stop the harassment:

  • Speak with the offender. At times, especially if the situation is not dangerous, you may be able to speak to the offender and ask them to stop. In some cases, while the behavior is inappropriate and requires accountability, a perpetrator may be unaware of the offense and may be open to stopping the behavior.Speaking to the offender is more useful in instances that include inappropriate or tacky jokes rather than behaviors that threaten your physical well-being. Safety is the priority, and there is a large difference between jokes that may appear to be harmless to the offender and actions that make you feel unsafe.
  • File a complaint with supervisors. If you don’t confront the offender or if they do not stop the harassment after you have confronted them, you may choose to file a complaint with your supervisor. Most companies have policies that outline who to send your complaint to and how to file a formal complaint.Even though this step may seem difficult, it is important to do. In many cases, a victim may not be allowed to file a legal claim if they have not given their employer a proper opportunity to correct the problem. Even if you are allowed to file a claim, the chances of winning your case decrease if you never notified your job about the harassment.Even if your company does not have an official policy, you can still notify your human resources department. You can let them know in person, but you also should notify them in writing so you have evidence that the communication has taken place.
  • Document the harassment and all the actions you take in order to stop it. Documenting evidence is important because, should the case ever go to court, you will need as much evidence as possible in order to build a strong case. When documenting the harassment, you’ll also want to document the details surrounding it, such as the day it happened, who the offender was, and where it took place.You should also note the effects of the harassment, such as how it affected you, how it hindered your work performance, and how the harassment has impacted other people, if they are willing to have you document their experience.
  • File a complaint with a government agency. This must be done before pursuing legal action. If your employer fails to act appropriately to remedy the situation, you can file a complaint with the local government agency. Typically speaking, an investigation is conducted, and steps are taken by the local agency to remedy the situation.
  • If the previous options yield no results and the harassment continues, you may decide to pursue legal action.

Consequences of Sexual Harassment

The consequences of sexual harassment can be detrimental and can affect both the victim and the perpetrator, as well as the workplace or environment in which it happened. Some of these consequences include:

  • Causing emotional distress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues for the victim.
  • Negative impacts on the victim’s physical health. The stress and anxiety caused by sexual harassment can manifest physically, leading to symptoms such as headaches, stomach problems, insomnia, and other stress-related health issues.
  • Suffering financial losses due to missed work, legal fees, or costs associated with finding new employment. Victims may no longer feel comfortable remaining with the same job or company.
  • Facing unfair and/or illegal employment consequences when they are being harassed or when they report the harassment. Some of these include a victim losing their job, retaliation in the workplace for filing a complaint (either through the perpetrator or through their employer), demotion, lost wages, personal injuries, and social adversities.
  • Perpetrators of sexual harassment may end up facing legal consequences, including civil claims and financial penalties. Employers or organizations may also face legal damages if they fail to act appropriately, which can damage their reputation and bring financial losses.


Q: What Is the Anti-Harassment Law in California?

A: In California, the main anti-harassment law is the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Under this law, employees are protected from harassment based on certain characteristics. These characteristics include sex, race, age, religion, disability, sexual orientation, and many others. This law not only protects employees but also protects people against housing discrimination.

Q: What Is Quid Pro Quo Harassment in California?

A: In California, quid pro quo harassment is when a manager or supervisor threatens an employee with negative employment actions if the employee does not engage in or allow sexual acts to occur between themself and their work superior. The employee may be threatened with actions such as demotion or termination. Quid pro quo can also look like a supervisor promising employment advantages, such as a promotion, in exchange for sexual favors.

Q: Can You Sue for Harassment in California?

A: You can sue for harassment in California. Generally speaking, a person must first file a complaint with a government agency before they can file a claim in court against their employer. When pursuing legal action, an employee can seek compensation for damages they incurred during the harassment, including lost wages from unlawful termination.

Q: What Constitutes a Hostile Environment?

A: In California, a hostile work environment occurs when actions are severe or pervasive enough to be considered abusive. In these environments, employees may feel threatened or intimidated by the behavior. This can include unwelcome behavior, comments, or actions that prohibit an employee from performing their job duties to the fullest.

Contact California Employment Counsel, APC, Today

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, there is help available. California Employment Counsel, APC, can help you fight for the justice you deserve as you try to move forward from the harassment. Contact us to speak with a compassionate and knowledgeable legal professional today.

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