What Employees Should Know About Sexual Harassment In The Workplace
Employees in Southern California have a right to work without being subjected to sexual harassment on the job. When an employee does have concerns about sexual harassment at work, it is important to seek advice from a Riverside County employment law attorney who can help. At the Law Office of Karen J. Sloat, APC, we are committed to serving employees who are facing sexual harassment and other forms of employment discrimination, and we want to provide you with more information about sexual harassment at your workplace.
Sexual Harassment is an Unlawful Form of Sex Discrimination Under Federal and State Law
Both California state law and federal law prohibit sexual harassment as a form of unlawful sex discrimination. According to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), now within the Civil Rights Department, “sexual harassment is a form of discrimination based on sex/gender (including pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions), gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.” The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) explains that sexual harassment, as a form of sex discrimination, violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Employees who are subject to or impacted by sexual harassment may be able to file a claim under state or federal law.
Two Forms of Sexual Harassment Can Occur in the Workplace
Sexual harassment can take two different forms:
- Quid pro quo harassment, which means “this for that,” and occurs when a condition of a person’s continued employment, promotion, or other work benefit requires that person to submit to sexual advances; and
- Hostile work environment, which occurs when harassment on the basis of sex (which may or may not be of a sexual nature) is severe or pervasive in the workplace.
It is important to know that an employee can file a hostile work environment claim for sexual harassment even if that employee is not the target of the harassment but is impacted by it.
Sexual Harassment Can Include a Wide Variety of Behavior and Language
There is no single example of what sexual harassment looks like in the workplace because it can include so many different types of behavior and language. The following are a handful of examples:
- Requiring an employee to submit to sexual advances in order to keep a job or get a promotion;
- Making unwanted sexual advances in the physical workplace or through remote forms of work communication;
- Unwanted physical touching;
- Making derogatory comments about a person’s sex; or
- Displaying sexually suggestive images.
Employers Have a Duty to Prevent and Handle Sexual Harassment
Employers have a duty to prevent sexual harassment and, when allegations are made, to respond promptly to a complaint. If an employer fails to take steps to prevent or remedy sexual harassment in the workplace, the employer may be liable. You should know that employers can be liable even if someone other than an employee perpetrates the harassment, such as a client or customer, or a delivery worker.
Contact an Employment Law Attorney in Southern California
Sexual harassment can have devastating effects in a work environment, impacting the employee targeted by the harassment and others around the workplace, as well. At the Law Office of Karen J. Sloat, APC, we serve clients in Riverside County, Cathedral City, Coachella, and Desert Hot Springs. If you have questions or concerns about sexual harassment and need information about filing a claim, you should contact an employment law attorney for employees at our firm who handles sexual harassment cases.