When you think of sexual harassment, you may immediately think of male workers harassing or propositioning female coworkers. However, as many men can tell you, men can also face workplace sexually harassment. In fact, statistics indicate that almost one in five complaints about workplace sexual harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) come from men. The number of men coming forward is only increasing with movements such as #TimesUp and #MeToo, as the number of men reported harassment at work has increased from seven percent to 18 percent during the past year. Prominent examples include the many allegations against actor Kevin Spacey, and those raised by actor and former NFL star Terry Crews against an agent.
These numbers illustrate that the sexual harassment of men at work is a genuine concern for U.S. employers. Not all employers take the sexual harassment of men seriously, however, and harassment may continue long after a victim reports the misconduct. In addition, some male employees may experience retaliation for even complaining about harassment.
Employees have the right to freedom from sexual discrimination and harassment at work regardless of their genders. If you are a man who was sexually harassed at work, you can often seek legal relief for the violation of your rights. You need a law firm that understands the harm that sexual harassment and retaliation against men can cause—you need our Oakland sexual harassment attorneys at Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP, on your side.
Unlawful Workplace Sexual Harassment of Male Employees
Both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protect employees from discrimination based on sex. Sexual harassment is a form of unlawful sex discrimination and is also, therefore, prohibited by these federal and state laws. These laws apply to private employers, public employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations.
Sexual harassment can take place in many different ways. Male employers can suffer from harassment by coworkers, supervisors, high-level executives, company owners, vendors, or anyone else encountered on the job—and perpetrators are both men and women. Many different acts can constitute sexual harassment, but they generally fall into two broad categories.
QuidPro Quo Harassment
An all-too-common scenario involving sexual harassment occurs when a person with authority becomes an aggressor and abuses power over your job. Some examples of this include:
- Your boss demands sexual favors and threatens to fire you or give you a poor performance review if you do not comply.
- Your boss offers you a promotion, raise, or another employment benefit in return for sexual favors.
If a tangible employment action is involved, California law gives you the right to take immediate legal action. You do not have to first give your employer the chance to rectify the situation. Instead, if this occurs, call an experienced sexual harassment lawyer as soon as you can.
Hostile Work Environment
Sexual harassment that comes from a coworker or another individual who does not have authority over your employment requires meeting a different standard than quid pro quo harassment. For instance, a single offensive sexual comment or gesture will often not give rise to a legal claim. Instead, the conduct has to create what a reasonable person in your situation would consider a hostile work environment. Generally, a hostile work environment is created by one or both of the following:
- Repeated and pervasive conduct that makes work unbearable
- A extremely serious and offensive, if isolated, act that makes the environment dangerous or hostile
Once conduct grows either so offensive or pervasive that you believe a hostile work environment exists, speak with an attorney immediately. An experienced sexual harassment attorney will help you report the situation to your employer. Your employer then has the opportunity to put an end to the conduct. If your employer fails to effectively stop the harassment, you then have the right to take legal action.
Employers often fail to take sexual harassment complaints by male employees as seriously as they should. If so, the hostile work environment may persist. An experienced attorney will understand your rights and remedies in this situation.
At Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP, we handle cases involving both quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environments. It can feel terrifying to face a boss after a sexual advance or after a supervisor threatened your employment. It can also prove horrifying to know you are going to work at a place where you may experience repeated offensive conduct from coworkers. You deserve to work free from any type of sexual harassment—and we will stand up for your rights.
Retaliation and Constructive Discharge
Some sexual harassment cases involve additional complicated legal issues. First, many employees who complain about sexual harassment—especially male employees—experience unlawful retaliation from their employers. In addition to prohibiting discrimination and harassment, federal and state laws also prohibit an employer from retaliating against an employee who exercises the right to complain about unlawful behavior. Retaliation can involve any type of adverse employment action, including:
- Unwarranted poor performance reviews
- Transfer to a less desirable position or location
- Denial of a deserved pay increase or promotion
- Reduction in shifts
- Other retaliatory actions
An employer may assume that a male employee’s complaint about sexual harassment is not worth addressing—and may even take action against the complaining employee. An employee may face ridicule and further harassment, transfers to different departments, or other forms of retaliation because of the complaint. You deserve to hold your employer accountable for any mental or financial harm that resulted from such unlawful retaliation.
Retaliation can pose challenges to prove because, as you can imagine, your employer will likely not readily admit to it. Instead, your employer will claim another non-discriminatory reason for the adverse employment action. Our attorneys know how to present evidence that an employer’s justification was pretextual and that the action was truly taken in retaliation.
Another complex matter in some sexual harassment cases is the legal concept of constructive discharge. If you fear for your safety or if a hostile work environment becomes unbearable, you may feel the need to quit your job. This is called constructive discharge, and California law considers it a form of wrongful termination.
Identifying constructive discharge is highly important in these cases. If you voluntarily quit your job, you will generally not retain the right to sue your employer seeking lost income or reinstatement to your position. However, if you left due to unbearable circumstances—if the court deems it a constructive discharge—you will have the right to seek compensation for your losses, among other available remedies.
Complicated and adversarial sexual harassment claims become significantly more challenging if they involve unlawful retaliation or constructive discharge. Fortunately, our skilled attorneys fully understand how to identify and prove such claims. These issues can become particularly prevalent in cases involving male harassment victims, because they may not receive the proper response from an employer and may believe their only option for relief is to quit their jobs. We are ready and willing to take these cases head on, so please do not hesitate to contact our office for help.
Do Not Wait to Discuss a Possible Case
It can take a lot for a male employee to complain about sexual harassment. Men may find harassment emasculating. However, it is not at all emasculating to exercise your rights under the law. Anti-discrimination employment laws are in place for a reason—and your employer should always comply with these laws. You deserve to work free from harassment and you should never hesitate to report incidents of misconduct.
Harassment not only can damage your job performance, but it can also harm you mentally, emotionally, and physically. If harassment becomes dangerous or relentless, you may feel the need to quit your job, which can cause serious financial losses as well.
The law gives you the right to seek compensation for all of your losses and the harm you suffered, but it does not give you an unlimited amount of time to do so. In fact, the law places strict time limits for filing a state or federal legal claim for workplace sexual harassment. Once that time limit passes, you will lose the right to hold your employer liable for the harassment you endured.
Because time is of the essence in these complicated cases, you should not let fear or pride stop you from seeking help from a skilled sexual harassment lawyer. The legal team at Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP, understands the difficult situation you are in and we are prepared to help.
Why Choose Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP?
Many law firms represent sexual harassment victims, but not many are as dedicated to protecting the rights of male sexual harassment victims. At Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP, we have heard many accounts of how such harassment can harm male employees and disrupt their lives. We commit to obtaining compensation for men who were denied equal treatment at work.
The following are only some of our related clients and case results:
- $1.5 million for two male security guards harassed by a male district manager
- $585,000 for a male janitor harassed by a male supervisor
- $500,000 for a male Pacific Bell employee harassed by his supervisor
- $485,000 for a male employee harassed because a gay friend visited him at work
- $400,000 for a male warehouse employee harassed by both male and female coworkers
- $375,000 for a male waiter harassed by several different coworkers
- $225,000 for a male personal trainer harassed by a male supervisor
While we are committed to obtaining the best possible results for each client, each case is unique and we will evaluate your rights and the value of a possible claim based on your specific circumstances.
In the first case above, our firm represented security guards at a dance club who experienced sexual harassment on the job by the district manager, who was also male. In that case, the employer argued that since the men were strong security guards, they had the ability to defend themselves and, therefore, were not harassment victims. The award in this case demonstrates that the law disagrees with the employer’s common view of sexual harassment against males in the workplace.
Many employers take sexual harassment against females more seriously because they find women more susceptible to harassment. This is a mistake, though, because sexual harassment can cause serious harm to male employees, too. Physical strength does not excuse illegal conduct at work, and you should never hesitate to discuss what is happening at your workplace with an attorney who understands.
Contact a Los Angeles, California, Sexual Harassment Attorney for Assistance
Discussing the mistreatment you have experienced is only the first step in California sexual harassment cases. Our attorneys will determine whether you have a valid claim and if so, they can go to work right away gathering evidence to support that claim.
We have many avenues by which to obtain the full compensation you deserve, including settlement negotiations with your employer or taking your employer to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) and then to court. Our legal team consists of skilled litigators who will not back down and will challenge an employer’s argument that sexual harassment of men is different than harassment of women or the acceptability of such conduct.
Our firm is committed to standing up for sexual harassment victims and we do not represent perpetrators of sexual harassment or anyone accused of sexually harassing behavior. If you believe you have a sexual harassment claim, you want Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP, handling your case. We represent clients in the Los Angeles and San Francisco areas and throughout California, so please call today at (510) 200-0162 or contact us online to discuss what happened to you and how we may help.
**We do not represent perpetrators of sexual harassment or those who are accused of sexually harassing behavior.