Sexual harassment in the workplace is a growing issue in all states in the United States. In some cases, a person may have problems learning how to draw the line between what is acceptable workplace behavior and what is actually considered unlawful harassment. Laws put in place strictly prohibit sexual harassment and these laws are growing more severe each year.
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination when in a workplace setting. Every state handles these claims differently, but now you can find out California’s stance on the matter and what to expect if you are involved in a claim.
The Two Very Different Types of Sexual Harassment Claims
Quid Pro Quo: This is sexual harassment that takes place when a supervisor or authority figure requests sex from an employee. They usually do so by attempting to push a sexual relationship in exchange for not firing or punishing the employee. Sometimes the supervisor will offer promotions or raises for sex.
Hostile Work Environment: This is sexual harassment that occurs through the presence of sexual photographs, jokes, or even serious threats. This inappropriate behavior makes for a very intimidating and offensive working environment. When a hostile work environment comes about, the U.S. Supreme Court says that employers may defend themselves in the cases brought against them. They can argue that they took reasonable steps to prevent the sexual harassment and made efforts to stop a supervisor or other working from pursuing.
What is DFEH-185?
In California, all employers are required to distribute an information sheet on sexual harassment known as Form DFEH-185. This form includes things about the illegality of sexual harassment, a description of it with examples, legal remedies and complaint processes available, and more. Here are some of the things within the form:
The Most Common Types of Workplace Sexual Harassment
- Unwanted sexual advances
- An Employer offering benefits in exchange for a variety of sexual favors
- Leering, making sexual gestures, displaying sexually suggestive pictures, or other visual misconduct
- Making or using derogatory comments, slurs, or jokes
- Verbal sexual advances
- Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, including graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words, or obscene letters left to the individual
- Physical misconduct such as touching, assault, or blocking movements
Three Most Common Sexual Harassment Complaints
- An employee refused to grant sexual favors or complained about harassment and, as a result, was fired or denied a job. This is known as retaliation and is illegal, even if it cannot be demonstrated that the harassment actually occurred.
- An employee is pushed and pushed until he or she quits due to not being able to tolerate an offensive work environment. If it is proven that a reasonable person would resign under these circumstances, the employer may be held responsible for the resignation.
- An employee becomes exposed to an offensive work environment and suffers harassment as a result.
When a sexual harassment case occurs, many factors may be considered in the claim. For instance, the frequency and severity of the alleged behavior may be under scrutiny to assess how far the harassment actually went. The size and nature of the employer’s business may be considered as well. Furthermore, when a hostile work environment claim takes place, they consider if a person in this similar position would have seen the situation as hostile as well. If the alleged victim actually helped participate in the sexual banter in a workplace, it will be much more difficult for he or she to prove that they have actually been harassed.
If you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, you may have a case. Did you have to resign from your job because the harassment became too much? Did an employer make an environment too hostile for your liking for way too long? Did you become the center of sexual jokes to the point of your workplace becoming uncomfortable? All of these things may lead to a claim. Call RAWA Law Group today to find out more about the steps you can take to make a claim! Remember the consultation is free and there is no obligation we are here to give you the best legal advice.