Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Harassment

sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is a pervasive issue in workplaces across the United States, including California. It is essential for employees to understand their rights and the legal protections available under both California and federal employment laws. 

Sexual harassment can create a hostile work environment, impact a person’s career, and cause significant emotional distress. Below, we address some of the most frequently asked questions about sexual harassment to help victims better understand their rights and the legal recourse available.

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?

 Sexual harassment involves unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. It can take many forms, including:

  •     Quid Pro Quo Harassment – This occurs when employment decisions, such as promotions or job retention, are contingent upon the employee submitting to sexual advances.
  •     Hostile Work Environment – This occurs when the conduct is so severe or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Examples of sexual harassment include inappropriate touching, sending sexually explicit messages or images, making sexual comments or jokes, and displaying sexually suggestive objects or pictures.

What Are The Legal Protections Against Sexual Harassment?

In California, sexual harassment is prohibited under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which provides robust protections for employees. Federally, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 also prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. Both laws make it illegal for employers to retaliate against employees who report harassment or participate in investigations

Key legal protections include

  •     Anti-Retaliation Provisions – Employers cannot retaliate against employees who report harassment or file a complaint.
  •     Obligations to Investigate – Employers are required to investigate complaints of harassment promptly and thoroughly.
  •     Training Requirements – California law mandates that employers with five or more employees provide sexual harassment training to all employees.

What Should I Do If I Experience Sexual Harassment At Work?

If you experience sexual harassment, document the incidents, report the harassment to your employer following their procedures, and consult with a lawyer to explore your legal options.

Can I Be Fired For Reporting Sexual Harassment?

While we cannot control employer conduct, the answer is “No,” and it is illegal for employers to retaliate against employees for reporting sexual harassment. If you face retaliation, you may have additional legal claims against your employer.

How Long Do I Have To File A Sexual Harassment Claim in California?

In California, you generally have one year from the date of the harassment to file a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

What Compensation Can I Receive For A Sexual Harassment Claim?

Victims of sexual harassment may be entitled to compensation for lost wages, emotional distress, medical expenses, and punitive damages.

Do I Need A Lawyer To File A Sexual Harassment Claim?

While you can file a claim without a lawyer, having an experienced attorney can significantly improve your chances of obtaining a favorable outcome and fair compensation.

What If My Employer Does Not Take My Complaint Seriously?

If your employer fails to address your complaint adequately, you can file a complaint with the DFEH or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and seek legal assistance to ensure your rights are protected.

How Can I Prove Sexual Harassment?

Proving sexual harassment can be challenging, but documentation and evidence are crucial. Victims should:

  •     Keep Records – Document all instances of harassment, including dates, times, locations, and the names of witnesses.
  •     Save Communications – Retain any emails, text messages, or other communications that support the harassment claims.
  •     Report the Harassment – Follow the company’s procedures for reporting harassment and ensure that a formal complaint is filed.

Witness testimony, photographs, and other forms of evidence can also strengthen a case. It’s essential to act promptly, as delays can affect the credibility of the claim.

Why Victims Need An Experienced Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Navigating the complexities of a sexual harassment claim can be overwhelming, and having an experienced attorney can make a significant difference. A skilled lawyer can:

  •     Provide Legal Advice – An attorney can help victims understand their rights and the legal options available.
  •     Negotiate Settlements – Lawyers can negotiate with employers to reach fair settlements that compensate for damages.
  •     Represent in Court – If a settlement cannot be reached, an attorney can represent the victim in court to pursue justice.

The legal process involves filing complaints, gathering evidence, and potentially going to trial. An experienced lawyer can guide victims through each step, ensuring their rights are protected.

Why Choose Law Office Of Joseph Richards, P.C.?

Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C., offers experienced legal representation for victims of workplace sexual harassment in California. Here’s why you should consider whether to choose them:

  •     Track Record of Success – The firm has a proven history of achieving favorable outcomes for clients.
  •     Personalized Attention – They provide personalized legal strategies tailored to each client’s unique situation.
  •     Compassionate Support – The team understands the emotional toll of harassment and offers compassionate support throughout the legal process.

Understanding your rights and the legal protections against workplace sexual harassment is crucial. By seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney, victims can ensure their voices are heard, and justice is served. Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. is dedicated to advocating for victims and providing the support they need to navigate the legal process effectively.

Call Law Office Of Joseph Richards, P.C. For Exceptional Representation

Understanding your rights and the legal protections against workplace sexual harassment is crucial. By seeking the guidance of a knowledgeable attorney, victims can ensure their voices are heard, and justice is served. Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C., is dedicated to advocating for victims and providing the support they need to navigate the legal process effectively.

If you or someone you know is a victim of workplace sexual harassment, Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C., is here to help. With a track record of success, we offer a free consultation to discuss your potential case and explore your legal options. 

Contact our Inland Empire workplace sexual harassment lawyer at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. by calling (888) 883-6588 to receive your free consultation. The firm represents clients throughout California, including Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County, and the Inland Empire.

How To Prove Sexual Harassment In California

sexual harassment

In California, all workers are entitled to a work environment that is safe and free of undesired sexual advances and sexual harassment. However, these incidents still occur, and you have legal options if it happens. If you or a loved one experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, our Riverside sexual harassment lawyer at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. can schedule a confidential appointment with you today.

State And Federal Sexual Harassment Laws Protect You

Both state and federal laws protect employees from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is gender-based discrimination barred by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Housing and Employment Act (FEHA). A worker who cannot enjoy a comfortable work environment free of sexual harassment is denied a fair and equitable chance to succeed based on gender.

Two Kinds Of Sexual Harassment

There are two kinds of sexual harassment, and if you have experienced either of these in Orange County, San Bernardino County, or Riverside County, you may be eligible to file a sexual harassment claim:

  • Quid Pro Quo: This type of sexual harassment happens when a worker is offered a benefit or threatened with punishment to receive sexual favors. Usually, the aggressor in this situation is the business owner, executive, or other type of manager. Some workers are terminated from their jobs for not providing sexual favors, which may be actionable as a wrongful termination lawsuit.
  • Hostile work environment: This form of sexual harassment happens when workers feel unwelcome, unsafe, or uncomfortable based on sex. A workplace is hostile when sexual harassment is so severe that it interferes with someone’s ability to do their job.

What Qualifies As Sexual Harassment?

Many examples of sexual harassment could result in a successful legal case. Some of the most common forms of sexual harassment in California workplaces are:

  • Sexually explicit jokes or comments
  • Sex-themed emails, texts, or phone messages
  • Sexual favor requests or actions
  • Obscene gestures
  • Sexual comments about a person’s body or appearance
  • Offers of promotions and perks for sexual favors

While women are more often targeted for sexual harassment by men, it can happen to any gender or sexual orientation. Attorneys often help workers who have been targeted for same-sex harassment. Also, while a manager is usually the aggressor, sexual harassment can involve co-workers and subordinates. Even a non-employee can act in ways that violate state and federal sexual harassment laws.

How Do You Prove Sexual Harassment?

It is not enough to simply say that someone at work sexually harassed you; evidence is required for your claim. Whether the sexual harassment has created a hostile work environment or is a condition of your employment, an experienced sexual harassment attorney may be able to help you prove your potential case. To increase the chances of a successful outcome, it is crucial to collect as much evidence as you can to prove a potential case.

From the first time you experience harassment, you should gather evidence of the illegal actions. Evidence that you should turn over to your attorney to prove the potential case includes:

  • Notes with details of all harassing incidents, including dates, times, and how each incident happened
  • Contact details for witnesses to the sexual harassment
  • Your wage records
  • Correspondence from your company or the harasser
  • Your personnel records
  • Photos
  • Copy of the employment manual
  • Healthcare records
  • Invoices and receipts
  • A copy of your employment contract
  • Any evidence of your company’s past misconduct

Some of this evidence could be easy to obtain, but other information could be more challenging. With specific legal tools, your attorney may be able to obtain evidence that could be hard for you to come across. Also, employers know that sexual harassment is illegal and may not always be forthright in helping you get the evidence you need. However, when an attorney gets involved, they may be more likely to acquire the required proof for the claim more successfully.

More Information About Proving Sexual Harassment In California

For the case to be actionable in court, sexual harassment must be severe enough to alter the conditions of your employment and lead to an abusive environment. Just one example of sexual harassment at work could be sufficient if the action was severe enough. But if the behavior is repeated, a reasonable person is more likely to find the behavior a form of sexual harassment.

Furthermore, a worker can claim a hostile work environment even if the sexual harassment is not directed at the person making the complaint. If the sexual harassment permeated the entire workplace, it is possible the employee could make a claim simply by witnessing the inappropriate conduct.

How To File A California Sexual Harassment Claim

Once you have gathered enough evidence for your claim, the next step is to file it. The first step is to file the complaint with the correct person at your employer. The company has a legal obligation to investigate the claim and take steps to stop it from recurring. But if your company does not address the matter or offer protection from the conduct, you should consider the next steps.

This means filing your claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), which has been renamed the California Civil Rights Department. These agencies will look into your claim and either give you a ‘right to sue’ letter or bring the claim against your company.

Also, what you tell the EEOC, DFEH or CRD is critical to your case, so you should speak to a qualified sexual harassment attorney before filing your complaint. Your attorney can provide guidance on how to frame the case. But if you have already received the right-to-sue letter, you should contact an attorney to understand the next steps.

Speak To Our Riverside Sexual Harassment Lawyer Today

Sexual harassment still commonly occurs in California and across the nation. If you believe you were sexually harassed at work, you know it is upsetting, stressful, and humiliating. But you do not have to tolerate it; you may be able to file a sexual harassment claim in California and potentially receive compensation for lost wages. Contact our Riverside sexual harassment lawyer at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. An attorney may be able to answer your questions and offer quality legal representation, so please call (888) 883-6588 today.

How To Recognize Subtle Sexual Harassment In Workplace

sexual harassment

Sexual harassment at work is illegal both in California and in the United States. If you think you have been a victim of sexual harassment at work, you do not have to tolerate it. Instead, contact our sexual harassment attorney in Inland Empire at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. today.

What Are California’s Laws On Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment at work is sex discrimination in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). State and federal law state that sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, physical conduct of a sexual nature, and actions that lead to an offensive or hostile work environment according to your sex.

Furthermore, California law states that offensive conduct does not have to be because of sexual desire but could be based on one’s perceived sex or gender identity. It also can be based on childbirth, pregnancy, and various medical conditions.

Subtle Sexual Harassment Examples

Some sexual harassment in the workplace is easy to identify, but some are not. For example, if you see the following subtle signs in your workplace interactions, you could be a sexual harassment victim:

Physical Touching That Is Not Sexual

Not every undesired physical contact must be sexual to be considered sexual harassment. Any physical contact at work that you do not want may be harassment. Some examples of inappropriate touching at work are:

  • Patting you on the back
  • Rubbing your shoulder
  • Brushing against you
  • Physically blocking you
  • Leaning too close

If some of these behaviors occur occasionally, it could be innocent. But repetitions of such behaviors could signal sexual harassment.

Comments About Appearance

There is a line between complimenting a co-worker’s appearance and sexual harassment. A compliment has well-meaning intentions and is provided to make you feel good. But sexual harassment can sound on the surface like a compliment, but it has sexual undertones.

For instance, saying someone looks sharp today is an acceptable compliment, but saying that a woman at work ‘looks hot in that dress’ is sexual harassment. But not every example is that clear-cut. So if you receive questionable comments about your appearance from someone, note it.

Unwanted Flirting

If someone finds another person at work, it can be ok to ask them out. However, if you turn down the date, the other party should stay professional and stop that line of inquiry. If the person asks you out and you continue to decline, it can become subtle sexual harassment. Also, someone regularly flirting with you without your consent is sexual harassment at work.

Sexual Jokes

It may be ok with close friends to make jokes of a sexual nature on the job. But not all parties at work may be interested in these types of interactions. For instance, it can be harassment to ask about your sex life and make jokes with sexual undertones. The bottom line is if the conversation makes anyone uncomfortable or unwelcome, it may constitute harassment.


A more severe type of harassment is when you complain about someone at work, and there is retaliation. For instance, if you complain your boss made an inappropriate remark and you are passed up for a promotion, that could be retaliation.

Who Is Liable For A Sexual Harassment Claim In California?

California laws state that a worker who perpetuates sexual harassment may be personally liable for damages to the victim. It does not matter if the company knew or should have been aware of the harassment. Employers are strictly responsible if a supervisor did the sexual harassment or if the perpetrator was the employer.

So, if the harassment came from the victim’s supervisor, the company is responsible for damages regardless of if the employer knew or should have known about the conduct. It also does not matter if the company took corrective action, either.

Further, the employer may be liable for a victim’s damages if they were aware or should have been aware of the sexual harassment and did not take corrective action. However, a victim’s first action in a sexual harassment claim cannot be to file a lawsuit simply.

Instead, you must file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and receive a right-to-sue letter. If the department does not bring a suit within 150 days, they must tell you, then you can obtain the right-to-sue letter. Only after you obtain this notice can you file a claim in court.

What Is ‘Quid Pro Quo’ Sexual Harassment?

Not all sexual harassment in the workplace is subtle. One of the more egregious forms of the practice is ‘quid pro quo’ sexual harassment. This refers to a supervisor or manager who wants sexual favors to provide a workplace benefit. To prove this form of harassment, you must show the following:

  • You worked for that supervisor, applied for a job through them, or gave services to them at work.
  • The supervisor made undesired sexual advances to you.
  • A work benefit was made contingent on fulfilling sexual favors.
  • This sexual harassment harmed you.
  • Your supervisor’s actions significantly affected the harm inflicted on you.

This type of sexual harassment always involves demanding sexual favors for benefits. These include a raise, promotion, additional working hours, project assignments, or a better work schedule.

Damages Available To California Sexual Harassment Victims

If you are a victim of workplace sexual harassment in Inland Empire or elsewhere in the state, you may be entitled to recover financial damages for your losses. If you win your harassment claim, you could receive the following:

  • Compensation for emotional harm and distress
  • Reinstatement or hiring
  • Promotion or back pay
  • Changes in practices and policies in your company

If you file a lawsuit and win, the court could also provide attorney costs and fees and fees for expert witnesses. In a rare situation, the victim also could receive punitive damages if the company was especially reckless and malicious.

Contact Our Sexual Harassment Attorney In Inland Empire Today

If you are being sexually harassed in the workplace, you have legal options and could be entitled to relief under state and federal law. Speak to our sexual harassment attorneys in Inland Empire today at Law Office of Joseph Richards, P.C. at (888) 883-6588.