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What To Do When Sexual Harassment Occurs At Work

Posted by Eric Kingsley | Jun 04, 2019 | 0 Comments

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.

Employer Responsibilities

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.

I've Experienced Sexual Discrimination At Work. Now What Do I Do?

  1. Document the situation. Make notes on your home computer or personal note pad that include: date(s), location, time, witnesses, and details of the incident. If there is a witness, ask them to do the same. Be sure that you do not keep this documentation at work.
  2. Report the incident in writing to your employer. Consult your employee handbook or speak to your human resources advisor to determine how to report the situation. Document your report in writing by describing the problem in detail. Keep a record of all communications you send and receive from your employer about the incident on your home computer.
  3. Request a copy of your Personnel File. Get a copy of everything in your file: your application, reviews, vacation requests, and any other documents you may have signed during your employment.
  4. File a Complaint with EEOC or DFEH. In order to file a lawsuit, you must first file a sexual discrimination complaint. Charges must be presented to the Equal Opportunity Commission (EEOC) within 300 days of the incident OR complaints must be filed with the DFEH within one year of the event.
  5. Consult with an attorney. Get the advice and guidance of an experienced sexual discrimination attorney. 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: (818) 990-8300.

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 a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney evaluate your claim, contact Eric Kingsley today for a free initial consultation. Or you can call us here in Los Angeles at (818) 990-8300.

About the Author

Eric Kingsley

In practice since 1996, the firm's lawyer and co-founder, Eric B. Kingsley, has litigated complex cases and written numerous appeals in state and federal courts on behalf of the California law firm Kingsley & Kingsley, including More than 150 collective actions. Mr. Kingsley focuses his practice ...

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