One of the most common forms of workplace harassment in California takes the form of sexual harassment. Like any other form of harassment, it is prohibited in the workplace pursuant to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Sexual harassment is defined as any unwanted sexual advances and offensive behavior that are sexual in nature. While sexual harassment is usually reported by female victims, male victims often fail to report sexual harassment because of fears of embarrassment and/or that their claims will not be believed.
Being subjected to unwanted sexual harassment committed by an employer, manager, supervisor, or co-worker can be detrimental to the affected employees job and health. The following will be a non-exhaustive list of conduct that can be considered sexual harassment as defined by the FEHA:
- Verbal conduct. This form of sexual harassment often consists of oral advances or propositions in which the harasser offers an employee a promotion, salary raise or job advancement in exchange for sexual favors. This practice is also known as “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, wherein the victim is threatened with job loss if he or she refuses to comply with the advances. Other forms of verbal harassment include sexual comments or jokes, as well as graphic verbal commentaries which are sexual in nature.
- Physical conduct. This form of sexual harassment includes unsolicited touching, patting, stroking, and hugging, as well as blocking or impeding worker’s movements.
- Visual conduct. This type of sexual harassment includes displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, screensavers, drawings, or posters during working hours. It also includes letters, notes, or invitations that are sexual in nature.
- Non-verbal conduct. This conduct includes sexually suggestive staring and/or facial expressions, sexual gestures, and following around the victim at the workplace.
Sexual harassment in the workplace that involves the abovementioned conduct is prohibited under the FEHA. In the event the harassed employee reports sexual harassment to his or her employer, the employer cannot retaliate against the employee through demotion, reduction in salary and/or benefits, and by termination. Also, there are other cases of sexual harassment wherein the harassed employee has no other choice but to resign from his or her job because of the offensive working environment. This is known as “constructive discharge” and constitutes a violation of California law.
The Law Offices of Jual F. Reyes is an experienced law firm specializing in representing the rights of employees with respect to sexual harassment in the workplace. If you have been subjected to various forms of sexual harassment in the workplace, have been retaliated against because of reporting sexual harassment, or you believe you have been constructively discharged, it is important that you seek legal representation from our California sexual harassment attorneys as soon as possible.
Call one of our employment law lawyers for a free initial consultation at (310) 854-5917 or toll free at (877) 242-4410.