If you or a loved one believe you have suffered sexual harassment in the Bay Area, you need to contact a lawyer with experience in cases like yours as soon as possible. Sexual harassment violates federal and state law, and you should obtain compensation for your injuries.
Like most discrimination issues in California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act, or FEHA, is the primary source of state sexual harassment law. Further, as with most things FEHA concerns, understanding and dealing with sexual harassment is complex, usually requiring experienced and knowledgeable legal counsel.
Sexual harassment, under California law, can be any conduct such as:
Under federal law, sexual harassment comes under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Both FEHA and Title VII define sexual harassment as employment discrimination. The courts recognize two basic classes of sexual harassment:
Hostile Environment sexual harassment occurs when the offensive behavior is so severe or pervasive that it actually modifies your employment conditions, interferes with your ability to do your job, or creates an offensive, hostile, or intimidating employment environment. You do not have to be the intended victim of the harassing behavior to suffer from a hostile environment. Your hostile environment can arise from conduct aimed at another which occurs in your presence. If sufficiently severe, even one incident can be sufficient to create a hostile environment. However, the behavior usually continues for a long time before it becomes intolerable for the victim or observer.
The legal test for finding a hostile environment has subjective and objective elements. Objectively, the behavior should be such that a reasonable person in the same situation will find it abusive, hostile, or offensive. Subjectively, the conduct must have caused the victim some level of emotional distress, disturbing them emotionally or mentally, affecting their ability to concentrate on their work, or interfering with their general well-being in the workplace.
Quid Pro Quo (Latin for this for that) is conduct that involves a proposed sexual exchange. The harasser may offer a raise or promotion in exchange for sex or other benefits in a sexual tradeoff. In other words, quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when someone conditions hiring, continued employment, pay or benefits, or promotion dependent upon the victim’s willingness to engage in sexual conduct with the harasser. The harasser can frame the proposed exchange as an offer or a threat. Only one instance of quid pro quo conduct is necessary to create liability. Employers who knew or should have known about this kind of harassment and took no steps to prevent it can also be liable for the sexual harassment.
Proving these cases can be challenging, so victims need an attorney with significant experience with similar cases. If you believe you were victimized by sexual harassment, contact us immediately to help you begin your recovery process.
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