Newport Beach Sexual Harassment Lawyers
Sexual harassment was recognized by the United States Supreme Court as a form of unlawful discrimination over 35 years ago, but it has not gone away by any means. Every day in the U.S., women and men are sexually harassed in the workplace, at school, in the doctor’s office, and other places where they often feel unable or afraid to speak out. The Garza Firm is your voice in times like these and will speak up and speak out for you. Our attorneys are committed to eradicating sexual harassment in the workplace and will fight to see that your rights are vindicated, protected and restored and that you are fully compensated for the harm you suffered due to being subjected to unlawful sexual harassment. Contact our experienced Newport Beach sexual harassment lawyers today for a free case evaluation.
California and Federal Laws Prohibit Workplace Sexual Harassment
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employment discrimination based on sex. This federal law, enforced by the EEOC and in federal courts, has been interpreted to prohibit sexual harassment as well as adverse employment decisions based on sex. According to the EEOC, unlawful sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. In addition, harassment could include offensive remarks about a person’s sex even if the comments are not of a sexual nature.
In California, harassment is specifically included as a prohibited activity in the state’s civil rights law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Under FEHA, harassment because of sex includes
- Sexual harassment
- Gender harassment
- Harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions
As with the federal Title VII law, sexually harassing conduct in California does not have to be motivated by sexual desire in order to be unlawful. Sexual harassment is also not limited to males harassing females but also includes females harassing males or harassment by a person of the same gender.
State and federal laws recognize two broad categories of sexual harassment discussed below – Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment and Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
The “classic” form of sexual harassment is known in legal terms as quid pro quo harassment. In this form of sexual harassment, a supervisor, manager or business owner puts undue pressure on a subordinate to engage in sexual acts or start up a romantic relationship. The supervisor either promises special job benefits like promotions or raises in return for sexual favors, or else threatens adverse consequences for refusing to comply, including cutting hours, denying a promotion, reassigning, giving bad reviews or discharging the worker.
Employers are strictly liable for quid pro quo sexual harassment perpetrated by a manager, owner, or other person in a supervisory capacity. Not only can you hold the individual harasser liable, but the company is liable to you as well for the harm you suffered, which might include reinstatement plus back pay and damages for mental anguish or emotional distress.
Hostile Work Environment
A claim for hostile environment sexual harassment does not have to include a quid pro quo exchange. Instead, a hostile environment occurs when a person engages in unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is so severe or pervasive that it creates a hostile, abusive or intimidating workplace. Although it is often a supervisor or manager who commits this form of harassment, a hostile environment can also be created by co-workers, whether they be peers or subordinates, or third parties such as delivery persons and vendors. Even customers can create a hostile environment through their behavior.
Examples of conduct that can create a hostile environment include:
- Sexual comments, advances, propositions or requests
- Groping, touching or hugging
- Sexual jokes
- Displaying pornography or inappropriate or offensive materials
- Blocking someone’s path with one’s body
- Graffiti of a sexual or sexually derogatory nature
You don’t have to be the target of the harassment to have a hostile work environment claim. If the harassment was directed at one or more other individuals but created a hostile environment for you, you might still have a claim against the harasser and your employer.
Regardless of who is creating the hostile workplace, the company can be held responsible for not responding appropriately. Every business should have a policy or procedure in place for reporting inappropriate conduct such as sexual harassment. Once in receipt of a complaint, the employer is responsible to conduct an investigation, reach a conclusion about whether harassment occurred, and take actions that are appropriate to the situation, which could include disciplining, transferring, reassigning or terminating the harasser, conducting training for all managers and employees, and other remedies. The complainant should also be informed of the conclusion reached and action taken. Failing to take these steps exposes the employer to liability for the harassment, including financial liability to compensate the harassment victim for the harm they endured.
Contact The Garza Firm Today
The Garza Firm works to stop and redress unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace or wherever else it occurs, including colleges and universities. Whether at work, school or any setting where someone is abusing your rights or subjecting you to unwelcome sexual conduct that creates a hostile, intimidating environment, The Garza Firm will fight to hold the responsible parties accountable to you for the harm they have caused. Contact our experienced Newport Beach sexual harassment lawyers today for immediate advice and assistance.