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California Sexual Harassment Law

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California’s Definition Of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is defined by California as unlawful violence, such as stalking, assault, or battery, or as a credible threat of violence, which causes significant fear, annoyance, or harassment without any valid reason. In California, any conduct or behavior of a sexual nature that results in an environment that is hostile, intimidating, and/or offensive to an employee on the basis of their sex is regarded as sexual harassment. According to this definition, a single occurrence can be considered sexual harassment if it is serious enough.

Under federal law, specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and on the state level in California through the Fair Employment and Housing Act, sexual harassment is considered a type of employment discrimination and is prohibited. However, the question arises as to what specific behaviors or actions fall under the umbrella of sexual harassment.

According to federal and California sexual harassment laws, the following actions in the workplace are considered sexual harassment:

  • Making derogatory slurs, jokes, comments, or epithets.
  • Making unwanted sexual offers.
  • Offering benefits in exchange for sexual favors.
  • Taking negative actions such as loss of employment or benefits following a harassment complaint.
  • Displaying or giving sexually suggestive objects, cartoons, pictures, or posters.
  • Blocking or impeding an individual’s movements.
  • Making unwanted physical contact.
  • Discussing sexual acts.
  • Threatening to take adverse employment actions or benefits if sexual requests are not met.
  • Making rude gestures or leering.
  • Using sexually degrading words, graphic comments, or sending sexually suggestive or obscene messages.

It is important to note that some of the actions listed above may not be considered sexual harassment if they are welcomed by the recipient. For example, if an employee asks out a coworker and the coworker agrees to go on a date, it would not be considered harassment. However, it is possible for an action to be initially welcomed but later become unwelcome.

Additionally, while Title VII only applies to employers with fifteen or more employees, California’s sexual harassment laws apply to all private, state, and local employers, regardless of their workforce size. This also applies to other California workplace bullying laws and protections.

The Fair Employment And Housing Act: California Sexual Harassment Law

To meet the requirements set by the FEHA and the DFEH, it is mandatory for all employers to take rational measures to stop and rectify any acts of discriminatory or harassing behavior. This can be achieved by an employer having a documented policy in place that addresses the prevention of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation in the workplace, and ensuring that all employees are aware of and understand the policy.

The policy ought to clarify the procedure for filing a complaint, which includes the following responsibilities of the employer:

  • Addressing the complaint in a timely manner
  • Maintaining confidentiality
  • Acknowledging the complainant’s communication
  • Assigning qualified personnel to investigate the complaint
  • Documenting the investigation and keeping track of the complaint’s status and results
  • Taking appropriate corrective measures
  • Ensuring that the complaint is resolved in a timely manner.

Furthermore, the policy should:

  • Provide alternative reporting options for employees to report incidents to individuals other than their supervisor (e.g., through a complaint hotline, an ombudsperson, or directly to DFEH or the EEOC).
  • Direct supervisors to refer harassment complaints to a designated representative, such as a human resources officer.
  • State that the employer will conduct an impartial, prompt, and thorough investigation that respects the rights of all parties involved.
  • Clarify that conclusions will be drawn based on the evidence collected during the investigation.
  • Explain that while the employer will strive to maintain confidentiality, the investigation may not be entirely confidential.
  • Affirm that if the investigation uncovers evidence of wrongdoing, the employer will take the necessary corrective actions.
  • Make it explicit that employees who report complaints or participate in workplace investigations will not be subjected to retaliation.

Sexual Harassment Outside Of Work

The law in California safeguards individuals who experience sexual harassment outside of their workplace. This type of harassment can occur in various professional associations, such as with doctors, therapists, landlords, accountants, lawyers, or teachers. In 1994, the California Legislature acknowledged that sexual harassment can happen in non-work settings and created a legal remedy for such cases under the California Civil Code Section 51.9. This provision applies to sexual harassment in business and professional relationships.

In 2019, the law was revised to provide additional legal protection for victims of sexual harassment. The amendment specifically extended protection against sexual harassment by elected officials, lobbyists, directors, and producers.

Sexual Harassment Lawyers of Pasadena can provide you with expert legal advice and representation on California sexual harassment laws. We understand that sexual harassment can occur in various professional and personal settings, and we are here to help you navigate the legal process.

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Two Legally Recognized Types Of Sexual Harassment

  • Quid Pro Quo sexual Harassment 

Quid pro quo sexual harassment refers to situations where an individual’s employment decisions are influenced by their acceptance or rejection of sexual advances or conduct. This can also occur if the individual’s employment is contingent upon tolerating such behavior.

In some cases, a single instance of sexual advances or conduct can qualify as harassment if it is linked to employment benefits. It is enough to demonstrate that there was a threat of economic loss to prove quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Employers can be held strictly liable for quid pro quo sexual harassment initiated by supervisors, as courts have ruled in the past. Even if a subordinate initially consents to such behavior and later changes their mind, they or can still pursue charges of quid pro quo sexual harassment.

  • Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment

When unwelcome sexual conduct interferes with an individual’s ability to perform their job or creates a work environment that is intimidating or offensive, it is considered hostile environment sexual harassment. Although there may not be any tangible or economic consequences, such as losing a promotion or pay, the behavior can still be illegal.

To hold an employer liable for hostile environment sexual harassment, two conditions must be met. Firstly, the employer should have known about the harassment, or it should have been reasonably apparent to them. Secondly, the employer should have failed to take adequate corrective action to address the situation.

Employers can be held responsible for creating a hostile environment through the actions of their supervisors, non-supervisory personnel, or even customers or independent contractors if they knew about the harassment and did not address it.

An employer can be expected to know about a hostile environment if there was a complaint made to management, if management did not establish policies against sexual harassment, or if the behavior was openly practiced or widely known among employees.

What Should I Do If I Was Sexually Harassed Outside The Office?

If you encounter any form of sexual harassment or assault related to your job outside of the workplace, you should report it immediately. This involves informing your employer and the human resources department and maintaining clear documentation of the incident, such as a written description, a list of potential witnesses, and pictures of any physical injuries. Additionally, you should note who you reported the incident to.

In addition to reporting the incident to your employer, you should also notify the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which is responsible for enforcing federal laws against sexual harassment. The EEOC can investigate your workplace to see if your employee rights have been violated. If your employer does not take appropriate action after your initial complaint, the EEOC can intervene and impose penalties on your employer to resolve the issue.

Finally, if you need legal assistance, you should contact the Sexual Harassment Lawyers of Pasadena to discuss your case and legal options in detail with a lawyer. If you have suffered any losses as a result of sexual harassment outside the workplace, such as emotional distress, physical injuries, or lost wages, a lawyer can help you file a lawsuit seeking financial compensation in Pasadena. A lawyer can help you seek justice for a violation of your rights as an employee.

The Time to Act is Now 

Act now for a free consultation from our top-rated legal  team to discuss any rights or compensation that you may be entitled.

We will fight to get the maximum compensation owed to you for your injuries and losses.

Complete The Form Or Call – (888) 299-1998

Who Can Commit Sexual Harassment?

There is a common misunderstanding regarding workplace sexual harassment in Pasadena that it can only be perpetrated by supervisors or higher-ups. However, this is not entirely accurate as your employer holds the responsibility of safeguarding you against sexual harassment from most individuals you may interact with within the workplace. This encompasses:

  • Owner, Supervisor, Or Boss

If a supervisor or boss engages in harassment towards you, according to the law, this is deemed as an action committed by the company itself. Furthermore, if a co-worker harasses you and your supervisor or boss does not take the necessary actions to address the issue, such as terminating or reassigning the harasser, the responsibility for the harassment can also be attributed to the company.

  • Non-Supervisor Coworkers

Sexual harassment can be inflicted upon an individual by their peers at the same level or by those who hold a higher or lower position in the organizational hierarchy. If you are sexually harassed by a co-worker who is not a supervisor, the company can only be held responsible for the co-worker’s actions if you first report the incident to the company. If the company neglects to take appropriate measures, then it may be held liable for any damages caused to you.

  • Third Parties (vendors, consultants, clients, customers, etc.)

Sexual harassment can be carried out by individuals who are not affiliated with the company as employees. For instance, a vendor may request sexual favors in exchange for a contract, or a third-party business consultant may continue to engage in crude and sexual humor even after you have expressed your discomfort and requested them to stop.

How Long Do You Have To File A Sexual Harassment Lawsuit?

To file a workplace sexual harassment lawsuit, it is essential to adhere to a specified time frame. Before 2020, individuals who experienced sexual harassment at the workplace had only one year to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). If they failed to do so within this time frame, they would not be able to file a lawsuit if they made a complaint after the one-year period had expired.

However, a new law was passed by the California legislature in 2020, which extended the time limit for filing a complaint with the DFEH to three years. This law has been interpreted to mean that if the last day to file a complaint with the DFEH before the new law would have occurred sometime in 2019, your complaint is now subject to the new three-year time limitation.

Our Pasadena Sexual Harassment Lawyers Are To Help

Sexual harassment can cause significant harm to the victim, both physically and emotionally, and can also have financial consequences. If you are facing workplace sexual harassment in Pasadena, it is important to understand the sexual harassment laws of California in order to safeguard your rights as an employee.

At Sexual Harassment Lawyers of Pasadena, we can offer you the required legal assistance to help you understand your legal options and rights. Our team of experienced sexual harassment attorneys is knowledgeable about the sexual harassment laws of California and can help you navigate the legal process.

We can help you in documenting your case, collecting evidence, and filing a sexual harassment lawsuit to seek compensation for damages. Additionally, our lawyers can aid you in reporting the harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and holding your employer responsible for their actions.

We strongly believe that nobody should have to experience sexual harassment in the workplace and are dedicated to helping victims pursue justice and move forward with their lives. Contact Sexual Harassment Lawyers of Pasadena today to schedule a consultation with our proficient attorneys to discuss your case and legal options.

Were you or someone you know a victim of sexual harassment?
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The Time to Act is Now 

Act now for a free consultation from our top-rated legal  team to discuss any rights or compensation that you may be entitled.

We will fight to get the maximum compensation owed to you for your injuries and losses.

Complete The Form Or Call – (888) 299-1998

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