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
- 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.