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What Steps Can You Take to Address Sexual Harassment at Work?

by Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP
February 23, 2024
Employment Law

Your Rights If You Experienced Workplace Sexual Harassment

Were you sexually harassed at work? You may be able to take legal action against the person who harassed you and your employer. It is important to consult with an attorney to determine your rights if you experience sexual harassment in the workplace.

At Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP, our trial lawyers work tirelessly to ensure that victims of workplace sexual harassment not only have a voice but also get the justice they deserve. We have recovered millions of dollars on behalf of clients throughout Los Angeles and the surrounding areas. We will not stop until we get the best possible outcome in your case. Contact our office today to schedule a free consultation. 

What Qualifies as Sexual Harassment?

Workplace sexual harassment is a common problem for men and women throughout California. Sexual harassment violates state and federal law and cannot be tolerated by employers. Any act of sexual harassment should be documented and reported immediately. In many instances, it is a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Sexual harassment at work may include:

  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Offensive conduct of a sexual nature
  • Unwanted or unwarranted sexually suggestive behavior
  • Sexual jokes or innuendos
  • Showing sexually explicit materials
  • Quid pro quo or asking for sexual favors
  • Sexual assault

In California, any conduct based on a person’s sex that creates a hostile work environment may be considered sexual harassment. Harassment may be based on a person’s actual or perceived gender-identity, or it may involve any form of sexual discrimination. 

Most experts believe that incidents of sexual harassment go unreported. Many victims fear retaliation or believe that they will be discriminated against for coming forward with these allegations. It is important to know that employers cannot retaliate against you for filing a sexual harassment report. It is within your right to report any harassment, and you should not fear coming forward. 

Are Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment the Same?

While sexual assault is a form of sexual harassment, the two are not the same. Sexual assault involves nonconsensual sexual touching. Sexual assault is a physical act, whereas sexual harassment may not include physical touching. 

Sexual harassment may be any conduct that may be deemed offensive or inappropriate, including sexual jokes or innuendos. While a single incident may not be enough to be considered harassment, repeated instances may show a pattern of behavior that can create a hostile work environment. 

All acts of sexual harassment, including sexual assault, should be reported immediately. If you are being assaulted, you should also consider filing a police report against the assailant. 

Who Are the Most Common Victims of Sexual Harassment at Work?

Many people assume that only women are victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. The truth is that sexual harassment can be perpetrated against individuals of any gender. 

Any unwelcome or unwanted sexual conduct may be considered harassment if it is pervasive or severe. One act is generally not enough to constitute harassment unless it is a quid pro quo situation or the incident is egregious.

Sexual harassment may be perpetrated by one sex against a member of the opposite sex or against a person who is the same sex as the offender. It also does not have to include conduct that is sexual in nature. It is enough that it is offensive and creates a hostile work environment. 

What If an Employer Retaliates After You File a Sexual Harassment Report?

It is unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee for filing a claim related to sexual harassment. If your employer retaliates against you in any way for filing a sexual harassment claim, you have the right to take legal action.

Employer retaliation may include:

  • Unlawful firing
  • Being skipped over for a promotion
  • Demotion
  • Reduction in salary
  • Shift reassignment
  • Disciplinary action

If you believe that your employer has taken adverse action against you after you filed a claim based on sexual harassment, you should speak with an attorney. An attorney can help determine the best course of action moving forward. 

Why You Should Consider Coming Forward with Allegations of Sexual Harassment

Coming forward with allegations of sexual harassment can be overwhelming. Coming forward, however, can help address the misconduct and stop it from continuing in the workplace. Employers should and must take allegations of sexual harassment seriously. They should be fully investigated to ensure that they do not continue or become worse. 

As a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you have a number of rights. In order to understand those rights, it is imperative to speak with an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can help determine what steps to take to address the harassment.

First Steps in Addressing Sexual Harassment

It is important to take action if you have suffered sexual harassment at work. Even if it does not amount to a legal claim, you should file a report with your employer. Make a detailed record of what is happening and when it happened. 

Steps to take to address sexual harassment in the workplace:

  • Document the harassment. A single incident involving a sexually explicit joke may not arise to sexual harassment as defined under state and federal law. Repeated comments, jokes, or innuendo, however, may be considered an ongoing pattern of behavior.
  • Write down the effects. Has the sexual harassment affected your work performance or made you feel intimidated? If the behavior has created a hostile work environment, you may have a valid cause of action against your employer.
  • Notify your employer about the harassment. Make sure you make a written report about the harassment to your employer. Your employer may have specific requirements for reporting the harassment under their sexual harassment policy in your employee handbook.
  • File a complaint with the appropriate agencies. You can file a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission and the California Civil Rights Department.

Taking these steps can help ensure that your voice is heard and that you receive the justice you deserve. You should not have to work in a place where someone is routinely making you feel uncomfortable or where it is expected for you to submit to a sexual act in order for you to get hired or receive a promotion. 

When To Consider Legal Intervention

It can be challenging to know what to do when you are being sexually harassed at work. You may feel embarrassed or be afraid to come forward. You may even be unsure if what you are experiencing is considered sexual harassment. Harassment should always be reported. Even if you are not sure whether you have a legal claim, you should still report the incident to your employer so that it can be addressed.

If you are being assaulted, the abuse is pervasive, or your employer fails to act on your report, you need to consider legal intervention. Too often, employers have turned a blind eye to sexual harassment in the workplace. The abuse is allowed to continue for years, creating a hostile work environment for all employees. Depending on the situation, your employer may be held liable for allowing the harassment to continue. You may also want to come forward if you witness sexual harassment take place, even if you are not the person who is being harassed.

Why Choose Levin & Nalbandyan Trial Lawyers for Your Workplace Harassment Case

At Levin & Nalbandyan Trial Lawyer, we offer experienced legal representation for individuals who have been sexually harassed at work. Our legal team has over 30 years of combined experience and will not stop until justice is served. 

We have secured multiple multi-million dollar recoveries on behalf of harassment victims, including a $10 million jury verdict against the County of Sutter, Sheriff’s Department for sexual harassment, and disability-related medical leave. We also secured a $1,325,000 recovery for a fast food worker who was sexually harassed by their manager.

When the stakes are high, you need a law firm you can trust. You need a legal team that will fight to hold all wrongful parties accountable and will not give up until you receive the largest possible recovery on your case.

Contact Our Office to Schedule a Free Consultation

Were you sexually harassed at work in California? Our lawyers can help you understand your rights and work to determine whether you can take legal action. In some cases, you may be eligible for compensation from a liable party such as your employer. It is important to act quickly, as you may only have a limited amount of time to file a claim based on sexual harassment. 
At Levin & Nalbandyan, there are no fees unless we win. Cases are accepted on a contingency fee basis, meaning you only pay attorney fees if money is recovered on your behalf. Do not wait. Contact our office today to schedule a free, confidential consultation. Let us provide the guidance and resources you need to move forward with your case.

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