WHAT IS SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
Until 1991 when Professor Anita Hill testified at the nomination hearings for now-Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, “sexual harassment” wasn’t a subject that was discussed much, nor was the term clearly defined. But Hill, at some cost to herself, bravely brought the subject into the limelight and made it a part of our public discourse here in the United States. Since that time, many more victims of sexual harassment in the workplace have come forward to assert their right to work in an environment free of unwanted sexual attention or innuendo.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT IS ILLEGAL
Sexual harassment is a violation Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to private and public employers with fifteen or more employees. The harassment can be physical or verbal and may consist of unwanted sexual advances, demands or repeated requests for performance of sex acts, persistent use of remarks or questions concerning a person’s sexual preference or habits or about one’s anatomy, or comments or jokes demeaning to a person’s gender. It is more than an isolated or occasional instance, but must be shown to create a work environment that is hostile, offensive, or intimidating.
The EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) is the federal agency that deals with complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace. The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing is the state agency that deals with sexual harassment complaints.
WHO CAN MAKE A CLAIM OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT?
- Although many people associate sexual harassment with behavior of men directed toward women, the harasser or the victim can be either a man or a woman; they may be of different sexes or the same sex.
- The person doing the harassing may be your supervisor, another supervisor in the company, a co-worker, an agent of your employer, or another person associated with the company who is not an employee.
- You don’t need to be to be the person directly being sexually harassed if you are being affected by the offensive behavior.
- You can make a claim for sexual harassment even if you have not suffered economic damages or been fired.
- The harassing behavior must be unwanted.
If someone at your place of employment is subjecting you or others to behavior that you consider unwanted sexual harassment, the first thing you need to do is inform the person that the behavior is unwelcome and demand that it stop. If it doesn’t, you will need to make the employer aware of it, using the company’s stated grievance procedure. If that doesn’t end it, it is time to consult with an employment attorney who will help you file an EEOC or DFEH complaint, a required first step, and then filing a law suit against your company.
FREE LEGAL CONSULTATION FOR SEXUAL HARASSMENT VICTIMS
If you live and work in Southern California and are being subjected to sexual harassment at work, take advantage of a free consultation with one of the well-experienced sexual harassment attorneys at the law firm of Zeldes, Haeggquist, & Eck, LLP. We are a business law and litigation firm focusing on sexual harassment cases. We are firmly committed to fairness for everyone in the workplace and have helped many victims of sexual harassment, both men and women, pursue claims against employers who perpetrate or tolerate this behavior. If you wait too long, you could lose your right to sue; call for an appointment today 619.342.8000.