Defend Your Rights with a Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Your workplace should be a space where you feel safe, supported, and respected. If you've experienced sexual harassment at work, you likely feel stressed and overwhelmed, unsure of how to proceed.

Concentrating on work is likely next to impossible, and you may feel intimidated to be near the person or people who harassed you. But you may also fear that reporting their actions could cost you your job.

At Kent | Pincin, we understand the complicated feelings surrounding sexual harassment in the workplace. Our sexual harassment lawyers can help you navigate a claim against your employer. 

Contact Kent | Pincin today at 310-376-0922 to discuss your sexual harassment claim in California.

What Is Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Workplace sexual harassment is any form of unwanted conduct in the workplace or from a coworker/employer which is directed at you because of your sex.

Many people have a hard time identifying whether the behavior they experienced counts as sexual harassment. This overarching term can cover many unwelcome behaviors of a sexual nature, including:

  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature
  • Harassment using explicit or implicit sexual overtones

Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment, regardless of gender or sexual orientation. Sexual harassment can also be a form of gender discrimination, which is treating someone unfavorably because of their gender. 

Notably, unwanted sexual touching is a form of sexual assault, which has different consequences and implications from sexual harassment. 

In the workplace, sexual harassment often involves an abuse of power. An employer or manager may harass an employee, and the employee may feel they have no recourse because they do not want to put their job at risk. 

But you have a right to report sexual harassment at work without fearing retaliation. Reporting the harassment with the help of our sexual harassment lawyers at Kent | Pincin can help prevent the harasser from continuing their behavior.

What Types of Sexual Harassment Are There?

Two main types of sexual harassment happen in work environments: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

Quid Pro Quo

Quid pro quo is a legal term that translates to "something for something" or "this for that." This form of sexual harassment involves demands for sexual behaviors in exchange for a benefit, such as a promotion, or to avoid a negative consequence, such as termination of employment. 

For example, an employer commits quid pro quo sexual harassment when they offer to give an employee a raise in exchange for performing sexual acts with them. As another example, a manager commits this form of sexual harassment when they threaten to fire an employee who resists their sexual advances. 

Hostile Work Environment

When sexual harassment is so severe that it creates an abusive environment for the employee, it is known as a "hostile work environment." This type of sexual harassment applies to extreme or pervasive instances of harassment in which any reasonable person would consider the environment to be hostile or abusive. As such, trivial or occasional instances of harassment would not apply. 

Generally, an instance of sexual harassment needs to meet at least one of the following criteria for you to submit a hostile work environment claim:

  • The sexual harassment is directed at you.
  • The sexual harassment is not directed at you, but you personally witnessed it in your work environment. 
  • There is pervasive sexual favoritism in your workplace. (Sexual favoritism occurs when an employee experiences some work benefit due to their consensual sexual relationship with another employee.)

Creating a hostile work environment is unlawful, and the employee or employees who create such an environment should be held accountable for their actions. Talk to our sexual harassment lawyers about whether your case meets the definition of a hostile work environment and how you can proceed.

Examples of Workplace Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a broad term for unwanted sexual advances, but many victims of sexual harassment struggle to understand whether the unwanted behavior against them warrants a sexual harassment case. Sometimes coworkers are rude, but does that mean they are harassing you?

In reality, any sexual advances that make you feel uncomfortable could qualify as sexual harassment. Below are a few common examples of sexual harassment in the workplace: 

  • Making sexual jokes
  • Sharing sexual photos or videos
  • Requests for sex or sexual favors
  • Repeatedly asking for dates 
  • Insulting someone's gender identity or sexual orientation
  • Paying excessive attention to someone or following them around 
  • Standing in someone's personal space
  • Touching someone without consent or commenting on their body parts
  • Asking unwanted questions about a person's sexual orientation

What Should I Do If I'm Being Sexually Harassed?

Experiencing sexual harassment can be scary, stressful, and traumatizing. You may be unsure of how to proceed or feel tempted to brush the situation under the rug to keep the peace. 

At Kent | Pincin, we understand that reporting sexual harassment can be intimidating, but we advise you not to conceal the matter or try to forget it happened. Doing so could encourage the perpetrator to continue their behavior toward you and other employees. 

Instead, consider taking the following actions if you are being sexually harassed in the workplace:

  1. Tell the harasser to stop: If you feel comfortable doing so, saying something like, "I'm not comfortable with you ____" can show the harasser that you are not going to put up with their behavior, and it also helps to define their behavior as harassment or unwanted. For example, the harasser may think their offhand joke is funny, but you saying, "I'm not comfortable with you making sexual jokes at my expense," helps define the behavior as harassment. 
  2. Document the harassment: If the harassment occurred over text or email, be sure to save the conversation. If it happened in person or over the phone, write down what you remember of the conversation for future reference. 
  3. Contact an attorney: A sexual harassment lawyer, like the lawyers at Kent | Pincin, can help you determine whether the conduct you are experiencing would qualify as sexual harassment under the law. 
  4. File a complaint with Human Resources: Once you have documented the harassment, go to your company's Human Resources officer and file a complaint against the person who harassed you. If your company does not have an HR department, you may need to file the complaint with a manager.

What Happens If My Company Does Nothing To Help Me?

After alerting your company to the sexual harassment, you expect them to take action against the harasser, such as by terminating their employment, putting them on probation, or at the very least ensuring that you and the harasser do not work together moving forward. But what if your company doesn't do anything? 

Your employer has an obligation to take steps to prevent further harassment from occurring including, for example, by conducting an investigation into the harassment and taking reasonable action. Failing to do so is a violation of the law. 

If you have reported the harassment to your employer and they have done nothing to help you, contact our legal team as soon as possible. We can help you understand how to proceed and hold your employer accountable.

Can I Be Fired for Reporting Sexual Harassment?

You cannot lawfully be fired for reporting sexual harassment. Terminating your employment or enforcing any negative consequences on you because you reported sexual harassment is a form of employer retaliation, which is unlawful.

Your employer may try to make it look like they fired you for some other reason after you report the harassment. But if they did not have a legitimate reason for firing you, your termination may have been retaliatory. r. 

If you think you were fired unfairly, speak with our sexual harassment lawyers in Redondo Beach about your options. We may be able to help you seek compensation for this unfair treatment and gain closure. 

What Should I Do If My Employer Retaliates Against Me?

If your employer has retaliated against you for reporting sexual harassment, you may have a right to sue. 

Your first step should be to contact a sexual harassment lawyer to explore your options. Your attorney may help you draft and file an initial complaint with the California Civil Rights Department (previously, the California Department of Fair Employment and House (DFEH)). Once you or your lawyer obtain a “right to sue” from the CRD, you will be permitted to file a lawsuit against your employer. Through a lawsuit, you may be able to seek the following damages:

  • Economic damages for your lost wages and benefits
  • Non-economic damages for the emotional stress or loss of professional reputation
  • Punitive damages to punish your employer for egregious behavior

Laws Against Sexual Harassment

The Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibits workplace sexual harassment in California. Under this act, any type of unwanted sexual advances, including ones that are visual, verbal, or physical, are prohibited in the workplace. 

Workplace sexual harassment is also unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act protects employees against discrimination based on sex, race, religion, and national origin. 

Under these two laws, you have the right to file a complaint against the coworker who harassed you. If your employer does nothing to help you, you have the right to report unlawful discrimination and file a complaint with the California Civil Rights Department.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Legal Sexual Harassment Claim?

In California, you have three years from the date of the harassment to file an administrative complaint with California’s Civil Rights Department.  However, statutes of limitations can be tricky, and there are various exceptions which may extend or shorten the time for filings claims.  Don’t try to calculate the statute of limitations on your own.  Call our sexual harassment lawyers at Kent | Pincin as soon as possible to evaluate your claims and deadlines.

Pursuing Claims of Sexual Harassment

If you're experiencing sexual harassment at work, your overarching goal is to stop the harassment. The number of steps you need to take to achieve this goal depends on your employer's cooperation. 

Your first step is to clearly and directly tell the harasser to stop. If the harassment continues, escalate the complaint to your supervisors. 

The person you file the complaint with depends on your company. Ideally, you will go to HR or a personnel department. If you can't, talk to your manager, or continue up the chain of command until someone takes your claim seriously. Document every interaction; either send the complaint over email or write it as an official correspondence. 

If your employer does not do anything to help you, such as reprimanding the harasser or ensuring that you no longer have to work with them, your next step should be to seek legal representation, who can evaluate your claim and help you file complaints with California’s Civil Rights Department and/or the EOOC. From there, the agency may issue you a "right-to-sue" document, allowing you to take your employer to court for failing to help you.

Proving Liability in a Sexual Harassment Case

Documentation is key in sexual harassment cases. Our sexual harassment lawyers at Kent | Pincincan help you understand how to document each step of your case to prove the following:

  • You experienced sexual harassment (either quid pro quo or a hostile work environment). 
  • You alerted your employer about the harassment. 
  • Your employer violated Title VII and/or the Fair Employment and Housing Act.

Alongside the documentation from your communications with supervisors and HR, our attorneys will help you collect evidence showing that the harassment occurred. For example, we can collect witness testimonies from coworkers who were present during the harassment. 

Even if you don't think you have much evidence of the harasser's actions, we will do everything we can to support your claim and hold your employer liable for their actions and/or inaction.

How Can a Sexual Harassment Attorney Help Me With My Case?

Hiring a sexual harassment lawyer is crucial to navigating your case successfully and holding your employer liable. Our attorneys at Kent | Pincin can assist you with all of the following as part of your case:

  • Help you understand your options 
  • Determine whether your experience is sexual harassment as the law defines it
  • Help you report the harassment to your employer
  • Help you hold your employer liable
  • Protect your rights to not be discriminated against in the workplace

If you're being harassed at work, contact us before reporting the harassment. We can provide personalized legal guidance to improve your claim outcomes.

Caring for our Clients

Contact Kent | Pincin To Represent Your Sexual Harassment Claim

Experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace can be stressful and overwhelming, but with the help of our sexual harassment lawyers, you can hold the harasser accountable for their actions and ensure that your employer holds them accountable as well. 

At Kent | Pincin, we've helped numerous employees in Redondo Beach and throughout California navigate discrimination, wrongful termination, and sexual harassment claims. We're well-versed in the laws and policies that apply to your case, and we'll put our legal knowledge, experience, and empathy to work to represent you well. 

Contact Kent|  Pincin today at 310-376-0922 or fill out our online form. We'll reach out to you quickly to discuss how we can help your case.

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