What if My Supervisor Sexually Harasses Me

A supervisor “is” the company, as a company can only act through its officers, directors and supervising employees. The company is strictly liable for the sexual harassment of its supervisors, regardless of  whether it took action once it found out or not. Our Los Angeles Employment Attorneys have successfully dealt with these cases numerous times and juries have found liability.
An employer is also liable under the Fair Employment and HOusing Act)EHA (California’s version of the EEOC) if it fails to take all “reasonable steps” necessary to prevent harassment from occurring. This is a separate cause of action from the harassment itself.
Failure to report your supervisor’s sexual harassment is not a defense for the company in a claim for failure to prevent further sexual harassment once they are on notice of your supervisor’s conduct. In a recent case, another supervisor was aware of the first supervisor’s harassment and thus the company was deemed aware.
A “supervisor” is anyone who has authority in the interest of the employer to hire, transfer, suspend, lay off, recall, promote, discharge, assign, reward of discipline other employees. This has been expanded to include “effectively recommending” action against an employee. Presumably, this was added since Human Resources is usually blamed for any termination decisions. It is only fair that a supervisor be one who can make that critical recommendation to HR, who rarely act on their own.
The knowledge of a “lead” may also be deemed that of a supervisor, if the “lead” has authority to direct you as the employee. When a supervisor (even as low as “just a lead”) knows of the bad conduct, knowledge is imputed, or presumed to the employer. It is very common for an employee to report “in confidence” to their lower-level, direct supervisor or lead, but then that supervisor does not continue the report up the chain, hoping that it will “just go away”.  Even if you as the employee request “no action be taken, I’m just giving you a head’s up”, action must be taken!