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Sexual Harassment In California

Protections Against Harassment In The Workplace

California Government Code Section 12940 et al. prohibits discrimination in the terms or conditions of employment on the basis of sex and prohibits harassment based upon sex or sexual orientation.  Furthermore, the law requires employers to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring in the workplace.

The California law is broader than Title VII in that it specifically prohibits harassment and discrimination.  It also applies to all employers, compared to Title VII which only applies to employers of five or more employees.

The CA Supreme court has defined harassment as conduct that is outside the scope of necessary job performance, conduct presumably engaged in for personal gratification, because of meanness or bigotry, or for the other person's motives.  Harassment can be categorized into verbal harassment, physical harassment, or visual harassment.  Verbal harassment consists of, but is not limited to, derogatory comments, slurs, sexual comments and jokes.  Physical harassment is defined as unwanted touching, rubbing against someone, assault and physical interference with one's movement or work.  Visual harassment includes derogatory cartoons, drawings, or posters, and lewd gestures.  Additionally, workplace harassment can involve violence or threats of violence to person or property.

California Sexual Harassment Attorney

Sexual harassment consists of unwelcome verbal or physical conduct directed at an employee because of their sex.  The sexual harassment can be by a man against a woman or a woman against a man.  Sexual harassment can take two forms: hostile work environment or quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Quid pro quo” sexual harassment, meaning “this for that”, the expectation that you will provide a colleague or manager with sexual gratification in exchange for job security.  For example, a supervisor's requests for sexual favors are linked to the grant or denial of job benefits, such a getting or retaining a job, or receiving a favorable performance review or promotion.  This is an especially serious situation that can expose both individual and corporate defendants to very heavy liability.  In these types of cases the form of sexual advance or proposition by a supervisor can be an express or implied threat.  In these types of cases, the employer can become vicariously liable for the supervisor's harassment.

“Hostile environment” sexual harassment cases may involve various forms of verbal and physical conduct, of both a sexual or non-sexual nature, which have the purpose of creating a hostile or offensive working environment.  In order to prove a hostile work environment claim, the employee would need to show: (1) that they were subjected to unwelcome sexual advances; (2) the harassment complained of was based on sex; and (3) the harassment was so severe or pervasive as to alter the conditions of the victims employment and create an abusive working environment.
Unlike quid pro pro claims, there is no requirement that the employee suffer loss of tangible job benefits or actual injury in order to state a hostile work environment claim.  Also, hostile work environment claims can be brought against supervisors, coworkers, or even non-employees under certain circumstances.

Sexual Orientation Harassment Attorney

Federal and state laws differ on whether harassment based on sexual orientation is unlawful.

Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, harassment based on sexual orientation is expressly prohibited.  FEHA imposes two standards of liability for sexual orientation harassment depending on whether the harasser is the victim's supervisor or a non-supervisory co-employee.  For non-supervisory harassers, the standard is negligence, but for supervisors the employer could be held strictly liable.

On the other hand, Title VII does not prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Our employment harassment lawyers are part of one of California's largest statewide law firms.  We are dedicated solely to representing employees in disputes against their employers.  Our employment law firm is based in Los Angeles, California, and protects clients from retaliation, discrimination, and harassment involving dismissal, demotion, or denial of accommodation based on age, race, sex, religion, color, sexual orientation, marital status, association, physical or mental disability, or other legally protected classifications.  Additionally we represent employees if they have not been paid the proper wages including overtime or minimum wage or given the proper meal breaks.  If you believe that you are the victim of harassment, contact one of our Employment Harassment Lawyers at (877) 789-9707 to set up your free consultation to discuss this matter.  We take cases on a contingency basis and collect no attorney's fees unless we win your case.

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