Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyer
No one should have to go to work and be harassed. All employers have a legal obligation to prevent sexual harassment.
Our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers aggressively and effectively defend victims of sexual harassment while protecting their privacy during the litigation process. Where there is a disparity of power, there is potential for abuse of that power. If you suspect you are being sexually harassed – you are probably right. We want to speak with you. Contacting a sexual harassment lawyer will help you navigate a difficult situation.
Both men and women, regardless of their sexual orientation, continue to face sexual harassment. While you may feel powerless and diminished, remember that you live in California – a state with the most generous protections.
Sexual harassment manifests itself in different ways. This is not an exhaustive list of all examples. What may start out as consensual relationship may escalate into unwelcome behavior. An employer must protect you from sexual harassment by supervisors, coworkers, and nonemployees (e.g., clients).
Sexual Harassment is a Leading Source of Sex Discrimination in the Workplace
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, ending sexual harassment in the workplace is a top priority. Women are disproportionately targeted, accounting for 78.2% of sexual harassment charges filed. The EEOC also notes that the majority of sexual harassment incidents in the workplace are never reported: “In 2016, The EEOC released a report on the study of harassment in the workplace which noted that workplace harassment often goes unreported.”
What is Considered Sexual Harassment in California?
There are many forms of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment may be direct and overt and/or indirect and subversive. Your situation may fit into one or several of the categories below. Notably, sexual harassment does not have to be directed at you for you to have a claim.
Sexual Motive is Not Required
California law recognizes that sexual motive is not required to prove sexual harassment. Harassers are not always motivated by a sexual desire or attraction. In some cases, the desire to control, demean and humiliate another person motivates harassment.
How Do I Know If I Experienced Sexual Harassment?
Below are some types of sexual harassment recognized by California Courts:
Quid pro Quo or Tit for Tat Sexual Harassment
“Quid pro quo” sexual harassment (also known as “tit for tat”) is sexual harassment occurs when your job, advancement, benefits, good performance evaluations, etc., is dependent on you providing sexual favors or going along with other unwelcome sexual behavior. Your advancement and/or retention may depend on the goodwill of your employer. Supervisors and other co-workers often take advantage of the disparity of power or close proximity to coerce or extort sexual favors or attention. There is usually an express or an implied threat that if you refuse to participate, you will face consequences. The consequences become apparent when you say no or reject and avoid advances.
The advances must be unwelcome. If there is a mutual attraction, an employer cannot be held liable. An employee, however, may still maintain a claim for sexual harassment if after a consensual relationship ends, the supervisor becomes vindictive resulting in a hostile work environment.
Hostile Work Environment
“Hostile work environment” harassment is present when you are working in a sexually charged environment and frequently exposed to vulgar sexual language and/or gestures, images, physical antics, touching and/or other sexual behavior that unreasonably interferes with your ability to work and/or creates an abusive work environment – even if the behavior is not directed at you. A single severe incident may even lead to a hostile work environment.
Sexual Favoritism Harassment
Even if you were not directly sexually harassed, you may still have a claim. An employer can create an atmosphere demeaning to men and women with widespread sexual favoritism towards favored paramours/lovers/boyfriends/girlfriends and thereby may convey a demeaning message to other employees that the supervisor views them as “sexual playthings” or that having a sexual/romantic relationship is the avenue forward at the Company.
What are Examples of Sexual Harassment?
Below are some examples of sexual harassment.
- Unwelcome Behavior – This is not an exhaustive list of all the types of sexual harassment that occurs. Sexual harassment manifests itself in different ways and if you suspect that you are being sexually harassed, you should reach out to a sexual harassment lawyer for a consultation. Ultimately, sexual harassment is unwelcome/unwanted behavior.
- Physical Touching – Any unwanted touching that makes you uncomfortable is prohibited. In some cases, touching is aggressive, i.e., pinching, pulling, hugging, kissing, and/or blocking you from leaving. Touching oneself sexually for others to see is also considered inappropriate. More subtle forms of physical contact are also prohibited and can be just as damaging to a person’s well-being.
- Sexual Assault – Instances of unwanted sexual touching at work may also rise to criminal sexual assault.
- Sexual Comments – The comments may be directed at you or others. Vulgar sexual jokes or comments, spreading rumors about co-workers’ sexual behavior, sharing sexual experiences, asking about your sexual behavior and other intrusive questions are just some examples that may give rise to a hostile work environment. Innocent jokes may quickly escalate into an unwelcome hostile work environment.
- Sexual Advances – Sexual advances may be direct, i.e., asking you out on dates or pressuring you to spend time together you otherwise would not. An employer may attempt to groom you before making advances and try to normalize otherwise inappropriate behavior.
- Sexual Harassment After a Consensual Relationship – Consensual workplace relationships are not illegal. However, in some cases, when the relationship ends or when one party no longer wants to participate, harassment may follow.
- Sexual Harassment by Clients, Customers, Third-Parties – Employers must protect you from harassment by third-parties even if the harasser is a coveted client, vendor, customer, etc. Once the employer is notified of the harassment, it must take immediate action to protect you.
What To Do If You’ve Been Sexually Harassed in the Workplace
Do Not Blame Yourself
Sexual harassment is generally motivated by the desire to exert control, to demean or to humiliate another person – not by sexual desire. Suffering in silence might make it worse.
Harassers often exploit the unequal power relationships in the workplace and the fear that employees have of losing their jobs in targeting victims. Victims are often afraid to speak up or to escalate their concerns out of fear of repercussions and losing their job. But, suffering in silence often leads to the same result. You would not be here if Human Resources had your back, rather than condoning or turning a blind eye to malicious behavior.
Unless harassment is dealt with appropriately, it will likely escalate into a hostile work environment forcing you to leave your job — the exact result you were trying to avoid by not speaking up.
Every situation is fact specific. There is no one fits all solution. Guidance and support tailored to your unique situation may lift the ongoing hostility.
Generally, it is important to document the ongoing harassment as well as your efforts to make it clear that the behavior is unwelcome. For more info, check out out guide on how to prove sexual harassment.
File a Sexual Harassment Case with the State of California
If you believe you are being sexually harassed, please contact an employment law attorney with a specialty in sexual harassment laws. The lawyers at Employee Rights Attorney Group have many years of experience in fighting for victims to sue for sexual harassment.
We always provide free initial consultations and complete confidentiality to our clients. Don’t go at it alone and don’t wait for it to get worse, a professional sexual harassment attorney is here to guide you through the road to justice.
How Much Compensation Will I Receive in a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit?
The amount of compensation depends on many factors including the net worth of your employer, your lost salary, damage to your career trajectory, impact on your emotional well-being, whether you are a “me too” victim, whether there is evidence the employer knowingly violated the law, the type of employer you work for, etc. Generally, victims are entitled to economic damages, which includes loss of salary, wages, stock options, and benefits.
Economic damages may include front pay for losses you will incur in the future. You will also be entitled to compensation for pain and suffering and associated medical expenses as well as future medical treatment. An employer liable for sexual harassment may also have to pay punitive damages, an award of damages intended to punish the employer and deter future sexual harassment. A lot of victims are also interested in injunctive relief, additional measures to prevent the employer from similarly harassing victims in the future. In general, restitution corresponds to the amount of loss and pain suffered. Our goal is to obtain full recovery and full justice on your behalf.
Depending on what you lost, victims may be compensated in the following ways:
- Back pay: Economic damages for loss of employment or refusal to promote
- Front pay: Future economic loss and damages to your career trajectory
- Emotional Harm: Victims often suffer from severe mental health issues
- Punitive Damages: Penalties intended to punish the employer
- Positive Change: By standing up for yourself, you may prevent others from suffering the same harm.
We are privileged to represent clients who seek injunctive relief, which includes orders compelling the employer to change its ways, institute policies and training, or other remedies tailored to the case.
Retaliation For Reporting Sexual Harassment is Illegal
Companies have a legal obligation to prevent sexual harassment and you should place your employer on notice about the harassment. It is common for a Company to encourage you to report sexual harassment to your supervisor or Human Resources. However, employees are often retaliated against for refusing to “go along to get along,” testifying as a witness, or reporting sexual harassment.
If you are being punished for speaking out on behalf of yourself or others, you may have a viable retaliation claim. Pay attention to whether under the guise of investigating your complaint, the Company is actually investigating you in order to find faults to justify termination or other adverse actions.
Learn More About California Sexual Harassment Laws
For more information about California laws relating to sexual harassment, please visit the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
If you have cause to pursue legal action against your employer for sexual harassment, California law requires you to act quickly. California imposes strict deadlines for pursuing legal action. Failure to comply with these deadlines will result in forfeiture of your right to pursue a lawsuit.
Attorney Diana Gevorkian Has Your Back in Sexual Harassment Cases
Victims of sexual harassment need additional support. We intentionally limit our caseload to support clients inside and outside the courtroom. This allows us to concentrate our time and resources to do our best for you and ensure that you never feel lost or alone in the process.
We have successfully helped individuals as well as multiple “me too” victims working in the same company. You are stronger together. We encourage you to take advantage of your rights and call us.
Let a Sexual Harassment Lawyer at Employee Rights Attorney Group Do the Work for You
We accept cases on a contingency basis, meaning we do not get paid for our fees unless we prevail. We understand that you cannot afford to pay for a lawyer when you are facing the prospect of losing your job. Your sexual harassment attorney will do all the necessary work to ensure that your lawsuit is properly filed in a way that sets you up for a good outcome. Your role as the client is to keep us informed and respond to our inquires and questions because you are the fact holder. We are partners throughout the process and are here to give you the confidence and resources you need to proceed. Contact us today for a free and confidential consultation.