Sexual harassment refers to any unwelcome verbal or physical conduct toward a victim because of his or her gender. Both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment; everyone regardless of gender is entitled to protection under California law.
Sexual harassment can take many forms, and it can be perpetrated by various individuals, including supervisors, fellow employees, and even non-employees.
What to Do if You are Sexual Harassed at Work
If you are sexually harassed at work, you want to take immediate action in order to afford yourself the best legal protections. You will first need to:
- Notify your employer immediately.
- If your employer has a sexual harassment policy, follow the policy and expect your employer to do the same.
- If your employer fails to take corrective action, or if you feel that your employer's action was insufficient to protect you, then seek legal counsel.
- Act immediately because if you delay, you may lose the ability to vindicate your rights.
Under California law, a "hostile work environment" is one where unwelcome conduct from a boss or co-worker has the effect of unreasonably interfering with one's work performance, or otherwise creates an intimidating, hostile, or offense work environment. If sexual harassment has cause you to miss work because of discomfort, seek counseling, or change your behavior, you may be able to show that your ability to work has been affected by filing a lawsuit.
What can I do to prove that I am a victim?
If you've been harassed, keep records! Record the dates of harassment, the specific language used, and ask other co-workers if they have been subjected to the same treatment. First, file a timely complaint with the proper channels at work, and if none are provided, document the instances of harassment and present them to your direct boss or your boss's supervisor if the harassment is severe.
Can I file a claim for sexual harassment?
California laws are designed to ensure that sexual harassment victims can bring claims against their employers for harassment, even when the harassment may not be perpetrated by their direct boss or supervisor, but by co-workers or even clients in some instances.
If you can prove that you are a victim of sexual harassment and that your employer failed to take action, you may be entitled to damages for emotional distress such as humiliation. If the court rules in your favor, you may also be entitled to damages for:
- Back pay
- Attorney fees
- Emotional distress
- Compensatory damages
- Punitive damages
- Monetary damages
To learn more about your rights and how our Ventura sexual harassment attorneys may be able to help you file a claim, contact Lessem Newstate & Tooson, LLP for a FREE consultation. We are available 24/7.