According to the State of California Department of Justice, sexual harassment in the workplace is defined as unwelcome sexual advances or the use of physical, verbal, visual or other actions and activities of a sexual nature that create a workplace environment that’s intimidating, hostile or offensive and is based on the sex of an employee. The person using the offensive actions, words or visual images does not have to be motivated by the desire to have sex with the employee for their behavior to be considered sexual harassment.
Intent Does Not Matter Or Mitigate
As long as the conduct is based on the actual or perceived sex of the employee or their gender identity, sexual orientation, pregnancy, childbirth or any other related medical conditions, the person engaging in it is guilty of workplace sexual harassment. Many people who engage in this abhorrent and illegal behavior often attempt to hide behind the excuse that they were ‘just joking’ or ‘We always play like that on the job’. But this does not absolve them from guilt for their actions. The offended party has the right to contact the best employment attorney for their case to help them to seek redress and put a stop to the unwanted sexual advances and innuendoes.
Changing Workplace Culture
That type of crude, crass and abhorrent behavior has been commonplace in a wide variety of work environments for decades. Employees were forced to endure the embarrassment and discomfort it caused because they did not feel they had the power to make it stop. But the ‘Me Too’ movement has helped to bring the pain and shame of those despicable activities to the attention of law enforcement, legislators, judges and the general public. Victims of workplace sexual harassment now feel empowered to speak out and demand legal action be taken against the perpetrators of the harassment.
No Longer Tolerated
Sexual harassment in the workplace is no longer a dirty secret that is tolerated with a wink and a nod by supervisors, law enforcement officers, judges and the general public. For decades actors spoke of the vile treatment they were forced to endure on the ‘casting couch’. Workers in many industries endured in silence the horrors of being touched, poked, prodded, cat called and violated in numerous other ways. But that type of behavior is no longer tolerated. Employees in California can now find many a sexual harassment attorney in Los Angeles willing to take their case and get them the justice they deserve.
Illegal Under State And Federal Law
In California, sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal under state and federal law. Workplace sexual harassment violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. The state agency whose job it is to protect Californians from being sexually harassed and unlawfully discriminated against in the workplace is the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Employees whose civil rights have been violated through workplace sexual harassment can file a complaint with the DFEH and have the agency pursue damages on their behalf.
The Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is charged with enforcing federal antidiscrimination laws.
What Victims Should Do
If you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, there are a number of steps you should take. First, find out if the company with which you are employed has a stated sexual harassment policy. If so, follow it and take the actions outlined in it.
You should put the complaint in writing. It should include the date and time of the incident and the names of the people involved. Keep a copy of every sexual harassment incident report. Once you have made your employer aware of the incident or incidents of workplace sexual harassment following the procedures and requirements listed in their sexual harassment policy, the incident must be addressed.
Your Next Step
If your employer doesn’t take the appropriate steps to address your report of sexual harassment in the workplace, you have several other options you can take to get support and have the situation addressed. You can begin by filing a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. You do not need an attorney to file these complaints. You may be able to file your complaint by phone, online or through the mail. When a complaint is filed with either the DFEH or EEOC, they are automatically contact the other organization and cross-file it with them. This means victims only have to submit one complaint.
Evaluation And Investigation
Once you submit your workplace sexual harassment to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and the Federal Employment Opportunity Commission, it will be evaluated to see if it has merit. If the DFEH and the FEOC decide there is merit to your complaint, it will be put through an investigation. As part of the investigation, the other party in the complaint will be given an opportunity to respond. The DFEH and the FEOC will meet with you to review the response. Should they decide the response is unsatisfactory, it means a violation of California or federal law has occurred. The legal division of the DFEH and FEOC will decide if the case should be handled through mediation or a possible lawsuit.
Get An Attorney
If your employer, the DFEH or EEOC do not treat your workplace sexual harassment claim with the seriousness you think it deserves, you have the right to take legal action. To do so you should retain either an employment attorney or a sexual harassment attorney. You should meet with them to discuss the facts of your complaint and make them aware of the supporting evidence and documentation you have. They will let you know if you have a case against the person or persons who sexually harassed you in the workplace, your employer or both. It is easy to find a good, experienced sexual harassment attorney in Los Angeles.
Let Your Attorney Take The Lead
An experienced employment or sexual harassment attorney will know exactly what to do to get your workplace sexual harassment complaint the attention and response it deserves. Your attorney will let you know if you need to file a report with the police. They will also thoroughly investigate the case and gather the facts and evidence they need to take your case to court. They will also discuss with you what you want victory in this case to entail. Do you simply want an apology and the offensive behavior to stop, a monetary award or something else.
A Serious Violation Of Your Rights
Being subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious violation of your civil rights. It’s something no one should have to endure. Both the State of California and the federal government have laws and systems in place to ensure this serious violation is appropriately addressed. If you work in California and have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment, report it to your employer immediately and contact the DFEH or EEOC. And if you are not satisfied with their actions, contact an employment attorney or a sexual harassment attorney in Los Angeles to look at your case.