HOW SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN THE WORKPLACE IS DEFINED?
Sexual harassment can take many forms and includes a range of undesired and inappropriate behaviors. It can be physical, visual, verbal, non-verbal, or written. California and federal law recognize two categories of sexual harassment:
1.) Quid pro quo harassment in which tolerating or giving in to unwanted sexual advances is a condition of continued employment, and
2.) Unwelcome sexual behavior that is so severe and so pervasive as to cause an abusive work environment for one or several employees.
Verbal sexual propositions, persistent unwanted advances, comments about a person’s appearance, physique, or sexual activity, requests for sexual favors, leering, derogatory sexually-based remarks or gestures, and offensive drawings, posters, or cartoons, or references to someone’s sexual preferences or habits are all behaviors that may be considered sexual harassment, even if no actual touching occurs.
Regardless of the form it takes, sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal. In addition, to employment situations, California law prohibits sexual harassment in other business and professional relationships.
BOTH MEN AND WOMEN CAN BE HARASSED
Both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment, and both can be perpetrators. Perpetrator and victim may be of opposite sexes or of the same sex, regardless of whether both are homosexual or heterosexual.
AN EMPLOYER’S RESPONSIBILITY
Every employer is legally responsible for taking reasonable care to prevent sexual harassment from occurring in the workplace. Reasonable care might be shown by distributing a company handbook that clearly prohibits sexual harassment and states the company’s grievance procedure, then following up on all complaints. Merely stating a policy of a harassment-free workplace does not constitute reasonable if the employer then turns a blind eye when harassment is ongoing.
PROTECT YOUR LEGAL RIGHTS BY CONSULTING AN EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEY
If you feel that you are being sexually harassed on the job, your first step should be to consult an attorney who handles employment matters. With experienced counsel, you will feel confident that you are covering all bases to fully protect your rights when making your complaint. When harassment occurs, you should contact a lawyer as soon as possible to make sure all claim forms are filled out fully and in a timely manner. In the event you perceive that your employer is attempting to retaliate against you for filing a claim, which is illegal, your lawyer will take appropriate steps to deal with that situation.
The great majority of sexual harassment claims are settled out of court. That said, you want to make sure that the attorney you select will be willing to take your case to a jury if an agreement is not reached before trial.
EXPERIENCED SAN DIEGO SEXUAL HARASSMENT ATTORNEYS ZELDES HAEGGQUIST & ECK, LLP
When you need the legal expertise of an attorney committed to a dignified and respectful workplace environment for everyone in San Diego and the surrounding area, the San Diego sexual harassment lawyers at Zeldes Haeggquist & Eck have a well-proven record of success in handling these sensitive cases. Call us today to schedule a free evaluation of your case, or fill out our Free Consultation Form.