Sexual Harassment – Definitions and Employer Responsibilities
Certain behaviors, such as promised promotions, awards, training or other job benefits upon acceptance of unwelcome actions of a sexual nature, are always wrong. Behaviors such as those are examples of sexual harassment which is against the law.
California and Federal law generally defines sexual harassment as unwanted or unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. Harassment can come in a variety of forms. It can be verbal, visual/non-verbal or physical. Harassment is defined in two distinct categories — Quid Pro Quo Harassment or Hostile Work Environment.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
“Quid pro quo” (this for that) harassment occurs when a supervisor offers to provide certain employee benefits in exchange for sexual favors. Or conversely, withholds specific benefits for refusal of sexual advances. Examples of benefits could include a raise or promotion and sometimes, continued employment itself.
Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment
Hostile Work Environment harassment occurs when an employee's work environment becomes abusive, intimidating, or hostile as a result of severe or pervasive sexual misconduct by a co-worker(s). In this case, a manager, supervisor, co-worker, peer, or even a non-employee such as a customer can create the hostile environment.
Employers must take certain steps to prevent sexual harassment. California Law requires all employers to post the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) poster and to distribute literature that explains the definitions of sexual harassment, the company's complaint process, and how to contact DFEH to report a complaint. Businesses with over 50 full, part-time or temporary employees are required to provide sexual harassment training. Managers and supervisors must receive two hours of training every two years. In addition to covering the definitions and laws, this training includes prevention strategies and remedies to correcting sexual harassment.
What your employer must do when sexual harassment occurs
As outlined above, it is your employer's responsibility to take practical steps to prevent sexual harassment. But when harassment does occur, the company is required to take immediate action to stop it. Upon receiving a complaint, your supervisor should conduct a thorough investigation and take appropriate action to correct the problem. This could include disciplinary tactics or termination of the harassing employee.
What you should do when sexual harassment occurs
If you are experiencing Sexual Harassment in your workplace here are some initial steps to take:
- Document the situations including the date, time, those in attendance, and details of what occurred
- Consult an attorney for advice
- Refer to your employee manual to determine your company policy on reporting the sexual harassment within your company
- File a claim with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
The lawyers with Kingsley & Kingsley located in Los Angeles, California have a wealth of experience fighting for victims of sexual discrimination and harassment. To have an attorney evaluate your claim, contact Eric Kingsley today for a free initial consultation. Or you can call us here in Los Angeles at 888-500-8469.