Workplace Sexual Harassment: Know Your Rights
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that still takes place today. According to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, 554 complaints were filed concerning sexual harassment in the workplace in 2016. Often, sexual harassment is a way that people discriminate against sex or gender, but it can also be used to discriminate against gender identity, gender expression or sexual orientation. Employers have a responsibility to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment and to appropriately respond to harassment allegations. It is important for employees to know their rights when it comes to harassment.
Legal Definitions of Sexual Harassment
In the state of California, sexual harassment is defined as unwanted sexual advances, or unwanted visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. There are two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
This type of sexual harassment, which translates from Latin to mean “this for that,” occurs when a job, promotion or other work benefit is conditional on your submission to sexual advances or other sexual conduct. This type of harassment often comes in the form of offers or threats. An employee can offer some type of work benefit in exchange for submitting to a sexual favor, or they can threaten some sort of action unless you submit to a sexual act.
Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment
This type of harassment is present when unwelcome comments or conduct based on sex interfere with your work performance or create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. The conduct must be severe, frequent or both and the victim must prove that the harassment disturbed their right to a peaceful work environment, affected their ability to perform their job or interfered with their personal well-being.
All employers have the responsibility to prevent harassment in the workplace. If the employer does not take the steps to reasonably prevent harassment, they can be held liable for the harassment. According to California law, employers must have a program in place to eliminate sexual harassment. Elements of the program can include:
- Distributing educational literature to employees about harassment;
- Posting copies of California’s harassment poster;
- Developing a written prevention policy that creates a complaint process and outlines actions that will be taken if sexual harassment is reported;
- Distributing that policy; and
- Providing training to supervisory employees.
Seek Representation from a San Jose Sexual Harassment Lawyer
Sexual harassment in the workplace can not only affect your job performance, but it can also affect you emotionally and mentally. All employees deserve to work in a harassment-free work environment. If you are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, you need to get help from a Santa Clara County sexual harassment attorney immediately. Contact Janoff Law to discuss your case and go over your options on pursuing damages. Call 408-286-2300 to schedule a consultation.