If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, you are not alone. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received 11,497 charges of sexual harassment in 2020 alone. While these numbers are worrisome, they are likely just the tip of the iceberg, as a large percentage of workers do not formally report harassment out of fear of retaliation. Sexual harassment is prohibited by both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Housing and Employment Act (FHEA). You should speak with an experienced employment law attorney if you have been sexually harassed at work.
Recognizing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Employees that are subjected to sexual harassment at work are often hesitant to report their experiences. This is especially true if an employee’s experience does not match the depictions of harassment found in movies or on television. The reality is that there is a wide variety of actions in the workplace that could be considered sexual harassment. In addition to the more commonly known example of unwanted physical contact, sexual harassment in the workplace includes:
- Crude jokes
- Sexual innuendos
- Lewd remarks
- Commenting on a person’s body
- Sexual advances
- Requests for sexual favors
- Circulating sexually suggestive photos, cartoons, videos, or other materials
- Sending or sharing inappropriate texts or emails
- Inappropriate touching or brushing up against others
- Using sexually suggestive, explicit, or offensive gender-related language
- Company policies that discriminate based on gender
If you have experienced any of the above behaviors at work, you should speak to an employment law attorney. Sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable, and the perpetrator should be held accountable.
What Can I Do about Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
In California, there are three main avenues to pursue a workplace sexual harassment claim. These avenues include:
Filing a Claim with the DFEH
Any person who wishes to file a sexual harassment claim in California must first file with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). Filing with the DFEH will launch an investigation that requires your employer to respond. The DFEH will then investigate your claim by conducting interviews, gathering statements, obtaining evidence, and potentially making a ruling. The DFEH often recommends a mediation to try and settle the case pre-suit. Once the case closes, the DFEH issues a Closing Order and Right to Sue Letter that will allow you to proceed to state court.
While you must file a DFEH Complaint for sexual harassment, there are certain instances when you would also want to file with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). While governed by federal law, an EEOC Complaint caps the amount of damages you can recover.
Filing a Civil Lawsuit
Once you obtain the Right to Sue Letter from the DFEH, an experienced attorney can assist you in filing your complaint in state court. Filing a lawsuit might seem intimidating, but this option provides significant benefits that the other options do not.
While lawsuits can take several years if they go to trial, most lawsuits are settled either early on or during a mediation. Many lawsuits settle because employers do not want to pay your legal fees if you win your case at trial.
Contact Our Experienced Employment Law Attorneys at Blackstone Law to Discuss Your Sexual Harassment Claim
At Blackstone Law, our exceptional team of employment law attorneys have helped many victims of workplace sexual harassment. We want to help you hold your employers accountable, reclaim your dignity, and recover damages for your losses.
You know when an employer or coworker has crossed the line, but you may not realize that what you are experiencing is sexual harassment. Trust your instincts and reach out to Blackstone Law today to discuss your sexual harassment claim. Our team of attorneys will listen without judgment and help you understand your legal rights and options. To speak with one of our attorneys, you can call us at (310) 956-4054 or contact us through our website.