Verbal Sexual Abuse at Work

Many employees don’t realize that sexual harassment and abuse don’t have to involve physical touching. You could be the victim of sexual abuse in the workplace following a look, gesture, or words from a co-worker or supervisor. Verbal sexual abuse can be mentally and emotionally damaging and make the victim suffer financial losses due to adverse employment outcomes such as job termination, demotion, reduced salary, or missed work. If you’ve suffered these or other damages from something another person at work said to you, reach out to our Oakland sexual harassment attorneys in California at Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP. You may have a sexual harassment case against the perpetrator.

Examples of Verbal Sexual Abuse at Work

An offhand comment, one-time joke, or teasing words may not necessarily be harassment. You’d only have a case against the person in these situations if the abuse was severe enough to cause you harm, affect your job, or create a hostile work environment. Consistent verbal sexual abuse, on the other hand, more likely constitutes harassment. Persistent yelling, berating, or obscene language from another person at work can create a workplace that feels threatening or intimidating to others. Examples of this type of abuse include:

  • Whistles or catcalls
  • Making sexual sounds or noises
  • Issuing sexual remarks
  • Using obscene and offensive language
  • Telling inappropriate sexual jokes and innuendos
  • Inquiring about a person’s sex life
  • Verbalizing the desire to engage in sexual acts
  • Requests for sexual favors (quid pro quo harassment)
  • Inappropriate compliments
  • Badgering someone into going on a date
  • Spreading sexual rumors
  • Using sexually degrading language
  • Writing abusive, obscene, or suggestive letters or emails
  • Derogatory comments or slurs

If the words someone says interferes with your ability to do your job, makes you stay home from work, or otherwise affects your employment, you may have a case of sexual harassment. You don’t have to be the direct target of another person’s words to file a complaint. Anyone in the workplace who feels that the words made him or her a victim can become a claimant. It doesn’t matter whether you or the other person is male or female. Opposite-sex and same-sex verbal sexual abuse can have the same negative outcomes.

Company Liability for Verbal Sexual Abuse

In the event of verbal sexual abuse in the workplace, learn who may be liable for your economic and emotional damages. You may be able to sue more than just the individual responsible for your harms. For example, if the alleged perpetrator was a co-worker, the company may be liable for his or her actions. In California, a company that has at least one employee carries sexual harassment liability. If an individual can prove verbal sexual abuse from a coworker or other company employee, the company may have to pay for damages. This could be the case if the company failed to act to prevent or address a victim’s alleged harassment.

To prove employer liability, you must first report your complaint to an internal department at the company, such as the human resources department. Filing a complaint can serve as proof that the employer knew or reasonably should have known about the situation. If at that point your employer fails to effectively address the abusive situation, you may have a negligence case against your employer. An experienced attorney can help you prove a claim involving verbal sexual abuse in the workplace.

As soon as you believe you’re the victim of verbal sexual abuse or any other form of sexual harassment at work, contact California employment harassment lawyers at Winer, Burritt and Scott, LLP. We can help with the filing process within your job and with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Call (510) 433-1000 to get in touch today.

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