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Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Representing the Rights of Sexual Harassment Victims in Los Angeles

Los angeles sexual harassment lawyer article from The New York Times confirmed allegations that film producer Harvey Weinstein had been sexually harassing women for years. This information opened the floodgates to numerous other valid accusations against various men as our Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyer discovered.

This occurrence, along with many similar ones, demonstrates how widespread sexual harassment is in the workplace. Such harassment doesn’t always need to be as blatant as the accusations against Weinstein. Even minor actions, without physical contact or clear quid pro quo demands, can be sexual harassment. In fact, these less common forms of harassment are more common than the direct and explicit ones like those Weinstein faced.

Thankfully, both state and federal laws offer protection and remedies for allegations against such harassment. Regardless of gender, if you’re experiencing harassment, you have legal rights. However, these rights are only effective if you actively pursue them. You should make use of the legal options available to you. If you’re facing sexual harassment, it’s important to take proactive measures to end it and seek compensation for any financial loss, emotional distress, legal fees, interest on awarded damages, and possibly punitive damages.

At Winer, Burritt & Scott, LLP, we are committed to understanding your workplace experiences and advising you on the viability of a claim, without any initial cost to you. For a no-charge consultation with our Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyer, please contact us at (510) 433-1000 or through our online contact form.

Understanding Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is defined by state laws as any unwelcome sexual behavior. This can manifest in various forms, whether visual, verbal, or physical, and is motivated by sexual intentions. It encompasses a broad range of actions, including harassment due to gender, which can occur even if the harasser and the victim are of the same gender. State laws specifically prohibit behaviors such as:

  • Visual harassment, like persistent staring, making sexual gestures or displaying sexually explicit materials such as images, cartoons, or posters.
  • Verbal harassment, including making derogatory remarks, using curse words, sexual slurs or innuendos, telling inappropriate jokes, or any other form of verbal sexual abuse.
  • Physical harassment involves any form of undesired physical contact, assault, or actions aimed at restricting someone’s movement against their will.
  • Propositioning employment benefits in return for sexual favors.
  • Retaliatory actions threatened or enacted after a victim refuses sexual advances

Both federal and California laws identify two main types of sexual harassment. The first type could potentially be named after Mr. Weinstein, based on the outcome of his case. This form of harassment occurs when a superior or boss implicitly or explicitly forces a choice between engaging in sexual activity with them or losing your job or career advancement opportunities. For more information on federal or California laws, you should consult a sexual harassment attorney in Los Angeles.

Another form of harassment known as “quid pro quo” (Latin: this for that) is also recognized. It is a practice where employees exchange sexual favors for the stability of their jobs, promotions and hikes. An implicit demand for sex, without necessarily being explicit, is enough when there is power disparity in the workplace. Through the threat of job loss or a halted career, so to speak, the victim is forced into compliance.

Different from other types of harassment, quid pro quo harassment is less frequent but still problematic because of its “he said, she said” nature. Many of these victims did not come forward because they felt they would be disbelieved. Yet, should there be properly obtained proof such as e-mails, texts or phone records, the employer will receive heavy punishments. It is clearly emphasized under the state of California that the managers who use their authority to get sexual advantages for job promotions or retentions are strictly liable.

Strict liability means that when the complainant wins, the employer is automatically responsible without any available defenses to diminish or remove this responsibility. However, if the plaintiff wins the case, he or she may recover from a large number of losses and damages. This may entail lost wages, as well as financial losses that exceed the amount of compensation awarded emotional distress, attorney’s fees interest on the award and possibly punitive damages. These can be awarded for cases where it is demonstrated that the company’s higher authorities were aware of the harassment but failed to act.

The second type of sexual harassment is HWE. This occurs with harassment that is prevalent or vile enough to foster a hostile, intimidating, or offensive atmosphere in the workplace. Such harassment may include a chain of little incidents that are suggestive comments, inappropriate jokes, and unwanted physical contact that individually appear unimportant but together create a hostile environment. A lone, catastrophic event can also trigger HWE. Whether the behavior is pervasive or severe enough to create a hostile work environment would be settled at a hearing or trial. Our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer can clarify these legal subtleties in more detail.

It is, however, crucial to point out that supervisors can create a hostile work environment without directly harassing the complainant. This kind of atmosphere can develop when supervisors or colleagues act in outrageously sexual ways by creating lewd comments, telling off-color jokes, and making offensive remarks, even if they are not targeted to the complainant. Much in the same way, a hostile work environment may take place when a female employee witnesses such behavior being aimed at other women employees even though she is not specifically the target of unwanted advances or misconduct.

Courts may find employers strictly liable for a hostile work environment as well but under specific conditions. Under California law, if a supervisor harasses an employee, the employer may face strict liability for damages. If the harassment creating a hostile work environment comes from another employee but not a supervisor, then the employer is liable for damages only if a supervisor knew or reasonably should have known about the harassment and didn’t immediately take appropriate measures to halt the harassment.

Under federal law, even if a supervisor harasses an employee, the employer is not liable if

  • Adverse actions were taken by the employer, such as firing or demoting, the employee who reported harassment.
  • The employer shows that it took reasonable steps to prevent harassment and acted promptly when becoming aware of the occurrence of this activity.
  • The employer has demonstrated that the harassed employee did not reasonably employ the preventive or curative measures delineated by the employer.

Unfortunately, this predicament limits those employees who withhold information on sexual harassment due to the fear of reprisals. On the other hand, the law in California does not cap an employer’s responsibility for harassment by a supervisor so California state courts would tend to be the more favorable venue for pursuing allegations of harassment claims.

But before you sue the employer, you or your lawyer must file a complaint with either the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (CDFEH), or both. Before a lawsuit can be filed, these regulatory authorities have to look into the case. A lawsuit filing will allow for damages recovery.

When a sexual harassment claim is made either to your employer or any regulatory agency, the law protects you from workplace retribution which may include demotion termination or other unfavorable conditions of working. This protection also covers potential witnesses.

No matter where you choose to file your complaint, you must contact a Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer because the statute of limitations is highly rigorous. For example, if you are being harassed by your boss or co-workers, you have to file with the EEOC within 180 days and one year with the CDFEH.

Employer Responsibilities in Addressing Sexual Harassment

It’s not only practical but also essential for employers to implement measures aimed at preventing and addressing sexual harassment in the workplace. Establishing these procedures benefits the business by preventing or swiftly dealing with such disruptive behaviors.

In California, this isn’t just a recommendation; it’s a legal requirement. Companies with 50 or more employees, including independent contractors, must provide sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisory staff every two years. New supervisors are required to undergo this two-hour training within their first six months. The training should cover several key areas:

  • Understanding the legal definition of sexual harassment as per state and federal laws.
  • Identifying behaviors that constitute sexual harassment.
  • Familiarizing with both company and government policies that support sexual harassment victims, including reporting procedures and other available remedies, as well as resources for those affected.
  • Strategies for preventing sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • The responsibility of supervisors to report instances of sexual harassment.
  • Approaches employers must take to address and rectify harassing behavior.
  • Guidelines for supervisors on how to respond if they are personally accused of harassment.
  • The components of an effective anti-harassment policy and the steps to effectively implement it.

Guidelines for supervisors of what to do if they are accused themselves. The elements of a good anti-harassment policy and the steps taken to implement it successfully. This compilation is not comprehensive. While the state does not license individuals to provide sexual harassment training, it recognizes three categories of qualified trainers:

  • Bars where practicing attorneys have at least two years of any state’s bar membership and employment law is related to the Fair Employment and Housing Act or the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
  • It means human resources professionals or harassment prevention consultants who have at least two years of experience in developing or delivering training on discrimination, retaliation, and sexual harassment prevention; addressing these complaints; conducting inquiries into such disputes; and advising employers or employees regarding the same issues.
  • Law school, college, or university instructors with a graduate degree or a teaching credential for California and who have at least 20 hours of employment law under the Fair Employment and Housing Act or the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Employers have other duties under California law. These broader and more general duties include:

  • The duty to stop harassment by ensuring that all necessary measures are taken to avoid discrimination or any form of harassment. This includes formulating guidelines and procedures for dealing with harassment.
  • The duty of distributing the harassment pamphlet from California to all workers, despite the employer size.
  • The need to have a written policy against harassment, discrimination and retaliation that conforms to certain regulatory standards. Such policies should specify the employer’s complaint procedure, require supervisors to report complaints and guarantee that an appropriate investigation is carried out in response to a harassment claim. Furthermore, employers must obtain written confirmation from employees that they have received this policy.
  • Supervisor training liability applies to all employers with 50 or more employees.
  • It is the duty to carry out a timely and appropriate investigation into complaints. This means that the law requires immediate measures to prevent such harassment when it is known or should have been known to an employer, its agents’s, or supervisors. In addition, employers would be held to blame if they do not take adequate measures designed to prevent discrimination or harassment.

If You Are a Victim of Sexual Harassment, Contact our Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Legal consultation is very necessary for victims of sexual harassment in Los Angeles. Winer, Burritt & Scott, LLP has attorneys who specialize in such cases and help you determine your rights. In such complicated cases where strict filing deadlines are applicable, taking quick action is recommended. Call our Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyer right away.

In cases such as these, the team of lawyers at Winer, Burritt & Scott, LLP can protect your legal rights. They are reachable at (510) 433-1000 or through their website if help is needed.

**We do not represent perpetrators of sexual harassment or those who are accused of sexually harassing behavior.

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