Despite the heightened public awareness of sexual harassment, it continues to be a pervasive problem in workplaces throughout California. Nonetheless, all employees are protected against harassment under state and federal law. If you have been subjected to unwanted sexual advances or offensive conduct, comments, or displays on the job, you need an experienced sexual harassment attorney in your corner.
At The Rankin Law Firm, we believe that everyone has a right to a work environment free from sexual harassment. We are keenly aware that victims of sexual harassment are often unable to perform their jobs and suffer serious psychological and emotional harm. Many are reluctant to come forward out of fear of being fired, however, and of potential damage to their reputations in the job market.
With the help of a skilled sexual harassment lawyer, however, you can protect your rights, your good name, and your livelihood. When you become our client, we will listen to you, understand your circumstances, and explore all your options. While pursuing a sexual harassment lawsuit against your employer may be a difficult choice, we will help you navigate the process and stand by you every step of the way. Please reach out to our office today to discuss your case in confidence.
What is sexual harassment in California?
Sexual harassment is considered a form of unlawful sex discrimination under both state and federal law. Generally, there are two forms of sexual harassment — quid pro quo and hostile work environment:
- Quid pro quo, the most flagrant type of harassment, occurs when a supervisor or person in a position of authority demands sex, or submission to sexual advances, either as a condition of employment or in return for work-related benefits (e.g. raises, bonuses, promotions).
- Hostile work environment occurs when an employee is subjected to a pattern of unwelcome conduct, comments, or displays of a sexual nature by anyone in the workplace — superiors, coworkers, vendors, clients, or customers. The harassment must be severe or pervasive enough to interfere with the victim’s ability to perform his or her job. A single incident or offhand remark may not rise to the level of harassment.
Under state regulations, sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual behavior, which includes sexual advances or any sexually motivated visual, verbal, or physical conduct. Examples of harassment include:
- Visual conduct — staring, leering, making sexual gestures, displaying sexually oriented objects, pictures, posters, or cartoons
- Verbal conduct — making derogatory comments, cursing, slurs, jokes, commentaries about an individual’s body or other verbal abuse of a sexual nature
- Physical conduct — unwanted touching, assault, attempting to impede or block movements
- Offering employment benefits in return for sexual favors
- Threatening or taking retaliatory action (e.g. firing, demotion, discipline) after the victim refuses sexual advances
Although targeted individuals are more likely to be women, workplace harassment can impact anyone, regardless of their gender or sexual orientation. The best way to protect your rights is to consult with an attorney well-versed in the applicable state and federal anti-harassment laws. Trust the team at The Rankin Law Firm to help you stand up to sexual harassment in the workplace and fight for the compensation you deserve.
How Do I Pursue a Sexual Harassment Claim in California?
The first thing to know is that federal law only applies to employers with 15 or more employees and limits employer liability to some extent. Moreover, before filing a sexual harassment lawsuit, you must first file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
If your claim cannot be resolved through mediation by the EEOC, you may be able to pursue a civil lawsuit, but you face a difficult challenge. Ultimately, you must be able to demonstrate that you believed the conduct was hostile or offensive, complained to your employer about the harassment and that your employer failed to take action.
At The Rankin Law Firm, we have extensive experience representing clients in proceedings before the EEOC and in the federal courts. We also help victims of sexual harassment pursue legal remedies under California law. In this regard, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) holds employers strictly liable for supervisor or quid pro quo harassment.
This means that if you can prove the alleged misconduct took place, your employer is liable for damages, which may include:
- Lost wages
- Lost benefits/promotions
- The cost of counseling resulting from the harassment
- Emotional distress
- Attorneys’ fees and costs
If your employer, a supervisor, or other responsible party knew about the harassment and failed to take action, you may also be awarded punitive damages. Before you can file a lawsuit, however, you must file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing to obtain a right to sue letter.
By working with an experienced sexual harassment lawyer, you can rest assured that your rights will be protected. Trust The Rankin Law Firm to handle your workplace harassment claim and fight for the maximum compensation you deserve, inside or outside of the courtroom.
Hostile Work Environment Claims in California
Under California law, an employer can be held strictly liable for a hostile work environment if the offender is a supervisor. On the other hand, an employer can only be held liable for a hostile work environment created by a coworker or third party if a supervisor (1) knew or reasonably should have known about the misconduct and (2) failed to take corrective/disciplinary measures to stop the harassment. If you believe that you have been subjected to a hostile work environment, it is crucial to have the trustworthy advice we provide.
Contact Our Experienced California Sexual Harassment Attorneys
At The Rankin Law Firm, we understand your concerns about taking legal action against your employer over sexual harassment. When you consult with us, we will provide you with a secure environment in which you can make informed decisions about your legal options and your future. Above all, we will always work in your best interests and treat you with the dignity and compassion you deserve. Please contact our office today to speak with an experienced sexual harassment attorney.