Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Posted By Alan Burton Newman, PLC || 1-Mar-2016

Have you been sexually harassed at work? Are you no longer comfortable in the workplace? If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, there are legal remedies available under the law. You should be able to show up for work without having to worry about being harassed or discriminated against!

Sexual harassment, whether it’s from a manager, the owner of the company, or a co-worker, can make going in to work every day a nightmare. A victim will not just be extremely uncomfortable, they may fear for their safety, hurting productivity, self-confidence, and morale.

Understanding the Fair Employment and Housing Act

Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace are protected under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which protects individuals against unlawful discrimination in the employment and housing sectors.

The FEHA defines sexual harassment as harassment based on a person’s sex or harassment that is sexual in nature.

Sexual harassment is an umbrella term because it can involve many types of offensive behaviors, including but not limited to:

  • Making unwanted sexual advances towards the victim
  • Offering an employee work-related benefits if they perform sexual favors
  • Making sexually graphic comments towards the employee
  • Making derogatory jokes or comments towards the employee
  • Making sexual comments about the worker’s body
  • Physically touching the employee
  • Blocking the victim’s movements
  • Sexually assaulting the employee
  • Making obscene gestures toward the employee
  • Threatening to retaliate against the employee

Are You a Victim of Sexual Harassment?

If you are a victim of sexual harassment, your employer is required by law to take all reasonable steps necessary to stop the situation from continuing so long as they are aware of it.

If you reported the harassment to your employer yet they failed to resolve it quickly and efficiently, you have every right to ensure that your employer is held liable for their lack of concern or corrective action.

If a settlement is not reached, the case may lead to a public hearing before the Fair Employment and Housing Commission, or to a lawsuit filed by the DFEH on your behalf. If the Commission determines that sexual harassment occurred, any of the following can be ordered:

  • Back pay or a promotion
  • Fines or damages for emotional distress
  • The complaining party may be hired or reinstated
  • Changes in the practices or policies of the employer

Additionally, victims of sexual harassment are entitled to file a private lawsuit in civil court once their complaint has been filed with the DFEH.

To learn more about sexual harassment, contact Alan Burton Newman, PLC. All of our first consultations are free and we are a no-fee, no-recovery firm.