The first question that comes in mind when one hears about workplace sexual harassment is a boss trying to intimidate an employee for a sexual advance. While this may be possible, sexual harassment can take many forms. It does not have to be a sexual activity or motivation from a sexual desire. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has guidelines that should be followed to determine whether an act constitutes sexual harassment. Therefore, if one thinks about sexual harassment, there should be an understanding of how sexual harassment is perpetrated and experienced in the workplace. With this, one can quickly detect any sexual harassment and hence be able to seek legal help to protect their rights.
Understanding Sexual Harassment In the Workplace
Sexual harassment constitutes any unwelcome sexual advances or conduct that may affect one’s freedom to perform in the workplace or creates a hostile working environment. Decades ago, sexual harassment came in the limelight when women lost their jobs as a result of declining sexual overtures from their bosses. The main idea here is that the penetrator is in control of job-related awards or even punishments over the target. Again, anybody can be a penetrator when it comes to sexual harassment. This could be an employer, colleague or even a non-employee such as an independent contractor. Sexual discrimination is one of the illegal discrimination in Southern California that is punishable by the law. It is mostly based on gender. According to legal doctrine, gender refers to both one’s biological aspects and gender stereotype. For instance, sexual harassment concerning gender stereotypes can occur when a man is harassed for acting as a “sissy” while a woman may be harassed due to taking over a role that is believed to be fit for men. Examples of sexual harassment include:
- Presence of photography at the workplace
- Making sexual comments
- Use of belittling jokes
- Bullying people based on gender identity
- Behaving in an inappropriate manner such as rubbing or touching of one’s body, face or clothing without permission
If you suspect any sexual harassment, you need to act as soon as possible. You should communicate with your employer. If your employer seems to be reluctant about this, you can immediately hire employment attorney in Orange County. The lawyer will help you understand your rights and options available to file a claim.
Am I Protected From Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is illegal, and one is protected by federal and state law. If you report any sexual harassment, your employer should not discriminate against you. He/she is supposed to ensure there are steps to avoid sexual harassment happening. Your employer has to ensure there is an established policy in place for preventing or conducting investigations and making sure the harassers are punished. With such kind of policy in place, every employee can know how to report sexual harassment. Additionally, an employer can pay damages for actions committed by an employee even if the individual is in a supervisory position. The law doesn’t care whether the employer knew or should have known about sexual harassment. Besides, if the employer failed to take action after learning about the act, he/she will still be liable for damages. Thus, an employer should make sure the workplace is free from sexual harassment and incase of any reporting; the necessary steps should be taken. Every worker is protected by the law; it doesn’t matter whether one is an independent contractor or an intern.
How Do I Report Sexual Harassment?
One thing to understand is that the law can’t protect you until you have taken some steps. Nevertheless, it takes courage for one to report sexual harassment. The labor and employment law in California requires a victim to:
- Talk to someone in the organization about sexual harassment: This could either be a supervisor who may be able to stop the harassment
- File an administrative complaint: This should be done with the California Department of Fair Employment Housing. It is to help the victim obtain a notice for suing. This department should act within a minimum of 150 days after you’ve filed a complaint.
- File a lawsuit: It’s only after receiving the right-to-sue notice can you go ahead to file a lawsuit in court.
- Seek legal advice: Since sexual harassment takes many forms, you need to know how the law will apply in your specific situation. The workplace environment can become unbearable due to sexual harassment. In such cases, you should seek redressal for damages caused. But, you don’t need to fight this battle alone; there are experienced employment attorneys out there who can give you guidance on what to do. The lawyer makes sure to help you file the case with DFEH within three years from the occurrence of the sexual harassment. Likewise, he/she will help you file a lawsuit within a year from receiving the right to sue notice.