Sexual harassment can make a workplace more than a little uncomfortable, whether the offending behaviors are directed at you, personally, or at another individual or group. If you feel the environment at your place of work is unhealthy due to sexually offensive comments, jokes, emails, or gestures, or if you feel your advancement is directly connected to sexual behaviors, the experienced employment law team at HKM can help.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment does not necessarily have to be a physical act that is aggressive or disgusting. Off-color jokes and blanket statements about a particular group such as women, gays, or others, are also considered harassment, as they create a hostile work environment. While single incidents are not necessarily illegal, a pervasive culture of behavior that offends or that leads to adverse employment decisions is definitely a problem, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Who is Guilty of Sexual Harassment?
While many people think males in a position of power are the primary offenders when it comes to sexual harassment, nothing could be further from the truth. Males and females, bosses, colleagues, and underlings are all potential violators of federal laws in this area. Sexual harassment may occur in the boss’s office, to be sure, but it may just as easily occur in the break room, the hallways, or any other workspace. Unwanted innuendo, visual stimuli, or sexual content of any kind should be reported immediately. Are you hesitant to do so? Ask yourself if you are keeping silent about your workplace concerns because you fear reprisals. That is a signal that the harassment is a pervasive problem, and one that needs to be addressed before it leads to further issues.
Sexual Harassment in California
While some would like to believe that sexual harassment is a thing of the past, the fact is that nearly one in five complaints handled by the EEOC is in this arena. California is no stranger to such issues. In one recent case, several employees, both male and female, were fired after complaining about experiencing or witnessing harassment in the form of:
- Promotions being tied to sexual favors;
- Sexual advances on a regular basis;
- Stalking of female employees;
- Leering and unwanted touching.
The court ruled in favor of the employees in this case, awarding the maximum amount of nearly $1.5 in damages relating to the harassment and retaliation.
What are Your Options?
If you have experienced sexual harassment at work, or have witnessed it, here is what you should do:
- Become familiar with company policy regarding your rights, as well as retaliation;
- Determine who would be the best person to whom you could report your concerns;
- Write down specific details and how incidents affect your job;
- Make a record of the company reaction to your complaint. If the boss will not admit that a problem exists, it is time to get outside help.
Now it is time to enlist the services of the HKM legal team. We know how to investigate and pursue justice in cases such as this. Contact us today in Los Angeles for a consultation with our knowledgeable and aggressive team.