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Sexual Harassment Attorney in Sherman Oaks, California

Incidents of sexual harassment in California are 5 percent higher for women and 10 percent higher for men than national averages, according to a study by the University of California San Diego School of Medicine. The rate for women is 86 percent in the Golden State compared to 81 percent nationwide. For men, it is 53 percent compared to 43 percent.

The news is even worse regarding foreign-born, gay, and bisexual men. Four out of five foreign-born men report having been sexually harassed compared to one out of two for U.S.-born men. Three out of four gay and bisexual men also report having been stalked and subject to unwanted touching, among other acts of sexual harassment.

Fortunately, California has strong anti-sexual harassment statutes on the books, which cover more potential victims than do federal statutes. Sexual harassment on the federal level is covered by the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to businesses with 15 or more employees. In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) covers harassment in all forms and applies to businesses of any size.

If you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment at work in or around Sherman Oaks, California, including Northridge, Van Nuys, and all of the San Fernando Valley, contact The Sweeney Law Firm, APC. We will listen to your story, investigate the circumstances, advise you of your best options going forward, and protect your rights vigorously.

Victim of Sexual Harassment?

What Is Sexual Harassment?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which enforces the Civil Rights Act, defines harassment in general as “unwelcome conduct that is based on race, color, religion, sex (including sexual orientation, gender identity, or pregnancy), national origin, older age (beginning at age 40), disability, or genetic information (including family medical history).”

When it comes to sexual harassment, behavior that can be considered “unwelcome” includes off-color jokes, references to one’s body, sexually gesturing, catcalling or making kissing sounds or gestures, offering massages, repeatedly standing too close to someone, and other acts and types of behavior.

A more overt form of sexual harassment is known as quid pro quo – literally, “this for that.” In other words, an employer or supervisor at work will hinge a promotion, vacation request, or other workplace benefit upon the receipt of sexual favors. Convicted Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein is perhaps the most notorious example of demanding sexual favors in exchange for professional opportunity and advancement.

In California, two types of sexual harassment are addressed by the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) – quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo is described above, but for the conduct to be considered hostile work environment harassment, the following conditions must be met:

  • The conduct is based on sex.

  • The conduct is unwelcome.

  • The conduct is objectively offensive.

  • The conduct is either so severe or so pervasive that it creates an abusive working environment.

A hostile work environment does not mean that every employee must be affected. If it’s just you and you find yourself in a hostile work environment because of the actions of another, that qualifies under the law.

Who Can Be a Harasser?

Typically, we equate sexual harassers with employers, supervisors, or people with power, but that’s not necessarily the case. A coworker who makes sexual innuendos or shares offensive sex-related photos or materials can be just as guilty as the supervisor hinging advancement on sexual favors. Even customers or outside contractors who frequent a business can be harassers.

Another pertinent point about popular misconceptions: It’s not just men who harass women, but it can be the other way around. It can also be members of the same sex harassing each other.

Recent Laws in California

California, which often takes the forefront in responding to workplace incidents, has in recent years mandated sexual harassment training not only for supervisors but for all employees. Under Senate Bills 1343 and 788, the first round of such training was to have been concluded by January of 2021.

These laws apply to businesses with five or more employees and require two hours of training for supervisors and one hour for non-supervisors.

Available Remedies

If you feel you’ve been sexually harassed at work, you can file a complaint with the EEOC, which will investigate if it finds the complaint worthy of it. Meanwhile, you cannot bring legal action until the EEOC issues you a “right to sue” letter.

In California, you can report incidents of sexual harassment to the DFEH, but that agency does not require you to do so before you file a lawsuit, although it advises that you do so “only if you have a lawyer.”

Sexual Harassment Attorney in Sherman Oaks, California

It’s often difficult to step forward when you’ve been sexually harassed for fear that you’ll be retaliated against. Let us protect your rights and advocate for you. We will build a solid case for you and pursue justice through every means available. Contact us immediately at The Sweeney Law Firm, APC if you’re located in Sherman Oaks, California, or anywhere in Los Angeles County.