Sexual Harassment: The Employer's Obligations

Are you being sexually harassed in the workplace? If so, you may feel vulnerable, uncomfortable, and you may be questioning your ability to continue working in such a hostile work environment. You should not have to feel this way!

The Fair Employment and Housing Act defines sexual harassment broadly, and says that it includes unwanted sexual advances, and harassment that is based on gender, pregnancy, childbirth, sex, and related medical conditions.

Examples of Sexual Harassment:

  • Unwelcomed sexual advances
  • Making sexual gestures
  • Verbal or physical sexual advances
  • Making sexual propositions
  • Verbal abuse that is sexual in nature
  • Blocking a person’s movements
  • Displaying a suggestive object or picture
  • Physically touching the victim
  • Sexual assault

What Are My Employer’s Obligations?

Under state and federal law, employers are prohibited from sexually harassing their employees. If the harasser was a non-management employee and the victim never reported the harassment, the employer may not be held liable.

With the above in mind, it’s critical that victims report all sexual harassment to their employers, otherwise, their rights may not be fully protected.

If the harasser is a lower-level employee, the employer may not be liable if the employer took immediate action once they learned about the harassment.

But, if the employer learned about the harassment by the non-management employee but failed to take corrective action, the employer can be held liable for the harasser’s conduct.

Employers are held to a higher standard when it comes to the actions of supervisors and managers. Essentially, employers are strictly liable for any sexual harassment committed by employees in supervisory positions.

Employers’ Legal Obligations, Include:

  • Taking reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment.
  • To ensure a harassment-free workplace, they should display a workplace poster from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
  • They should distribute brochures to employees about sexual harassment.
  • All employers with 50 or more employees must provide at least two hours of sexual harassment training to all supervisors within 6 months of assuming supervisory roles.

If you believe that you are being sexually harassed, you should contact Alan Burton Newman, PLC to file a complaint.

If there is evidence of sexual harassment, it may result in a settlement, or a lawsuit may yield damages for emotional distress, back pay, a promotion, etc.

Contact our Los Angeles employment law firm to discuss the details of your case for free with our Harvard lawyer!