From the standpoint of a person who is being sexually harassed, a work environment may become hostile or abusive if a pattern of offensive conduct is perpetuated. However, other people in the office, especially the perpetrator(s), management and human resources, may perceive that the work environment is unchanged and inoffensive. Maybe this is the way the environment at this company has always been. Maybe no one has ever questioned its legality or hostility. That does not make it right, and it does not mean you have to put up with it.
What Is A Hostile Work Environment?
A hostile work environment is a common cause of sexual harassment. Physical, verbal or visual sexual harassment may include:
- Employment discrimination based on gender, physical appearance or sexual orientation
- Comments about someone’s body (could be anyone) or sexual remarks
- Leering looks
- Offensive gestures or comments
- Derogatory or pornographic posters, drawings and pictures
- Unwelcome touching or grabbing
- Actions characteristic of stalking
This type of sexual harassment must be unwelcome to you. It does not have to involve job loss or threatened job loss, but it must be frequent or severe enough to produce a hostile work environment.
Reporting Sexual Harassment At Work
Sexual harassment, like abuse and mockery, is a means to assert power or authority over another person or group. In most cases, sexual harassment is perpetrated by a peer or someone higher in the company hierarchy than the victim. The victim may depend on an amicable relationship with the perpetrator for economic and emotional well-being.
Intimidation is a powerful tool for a harasser. Humiliation, fear of job loss and fear of other forms of retaliation often motivate a victim to do nothing and neglect to file a complaint. Psychological abuse is a powerful demotivator.
Filing A California Sexual Harassment Claim
If you are uncomfortable discussing the issue with your company’s human resources department without first contacting a lawyer, that is OK. Contact an experienced California hostile work environment lawyer to discuss how to handle your situation. You have many alternatives, including not complaining to HR or management or being advised as to the best way to complain. You may also be advised to file a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or we can do this for you. The eventual filing of a lawsuit should also be discussed.
Our lawyers obtained $4,461,636.40 at trial for two female employees who alleged that they were sexually harassed by a co-worker at FedEx. The first plaintiff was a 20-year-old handler when the perpetrator romantically pursued her against her wishes. She alleged that the conduct escalated to the point where it became stalking-like behavior. See more verdicts and settlements we have obtained for our clients.
Get Legal Help From Experienced Sexual Harassment Lawyers
Sexual harassment lawyers in California at Winer, Burritt & Tillis LLP, our attorneys provide results-oriented representation for victims of sexual harassment throughout Northern and Southern California.
For a free consultation, call us at (510) 433-1000 or complete an inquiry form.