Experienced Sexual Harassment Lawyers Serving San Francisco And Surrounding Areas
There are shocking statistics around sexual abuse and how many individuals suffer every day from different forms of sexual harassment in the workplace and elsewhere. The MeTooMovement shockingly shows the regular, regrettable occurrence of it even though Federal law and State law clearly prohibit it. Its victims can suffer mild to severe consequences from its damage in all different industries and locations including the greater San Francisco area. Poor job performance can be a result of such acts as well as ravaging its victims psychologically and emotionally to not have a desire to return to work. If you need legal aid, our San Francisco sexual harassment attorney can help you navigate through the wrongs that have been done to you.
At Winer, Burritt & Scott, LLP, our attorneys are committed to serving and giving legal support and aid to those who have suffered the detrimental consequences of sexual harassment in the workplace. Help is available and our San Francisco sexual harassment attorney will do everything in their power to hold those offenders accountable and liable. It is not easy to step out of the comfort of a secure job when uncalled for acts are occurring in the workplace. At our firm, you will find a safe place with compassionate legal support and a non-judgmental atmosphere in your midst. Call our office today if you need a place to uncover those wrongs that have been done to you.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
According to the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment can be defined as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. Both the victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.”
The California Department of Fair Housing provides a detailed list of the type of conduct that would be considered sexual harassment:
- Obtaining sexual favors by granting employment benefits
- Using threats towards the victim if they reject the sexual advances
- Any form of physical conduct including assault, block movements, uninviting touching
- Derogatory comments, sexual innuendoes that are suggestive, verbal conduct, or any other form of verbal abuse in any sexual way
- Forms of visual conduct including sexual gestures, displaying suggestive sexual pictures, posters or cartoons, different forms of staring and leering
One of the common forms of sexual harassment that the federal and state law recognize is what’s called the “quid pro quo” harassment“, a this-for-that meaning in Latin. In short terms, it basically means you will offer a trade of something for another thing. For example, in terms of sexual harassment, you would trade sex for a new employment opportunity: promotion, a raise, hiring, etc. In this case, a CEO, co-worker, or supervisor would suggest some form of a sexual encounter and as a result, the other person would benefit from an employee’s action, good or bad. Regardless of the result, it would be a type of sexual harassment.
This type of sexual harassment is not an offer but a demand on the part of the co-worker, CEO, supervisor, or another offender who trade benefits for a form of sexual favors. They are not “asking” for sex but demanding it from you. It becomes a black and white line of you providing “x” or you lose “y”. When you do not comply with the demand, your threatened loss of employment opportunities, whatever that might be. When a superior uses this form of authority in the workplace to intimidate or harass a current employee, California law will hold the employer accountable through strict state laws. Even if the victim does not comply, and the result is not in favor of the employer or harasser.
Strict Liability in Sexual Harassment
An employer’s liability arises regardless of the employer’s own lack of knowledge or attempts to remedy the situation with strict liability. They will be at fault regardless of negligence. There are no defenses that can reach outside the law, they cannot avoid liability. The accuser is able to recover compensation from losses as well as attorney fees, damages awarded, and economic loss. One way the defendant can receive punishment is through punitive damages awarded by the court because of directors or company officers failing to take action when they were aware of the harassment.
Some of the items listed below are reason enough to be considered legally actionable sexual harassment due to a hostile work environment:
- A descriptive encounter of sex
- Inappropriate sexual jokes or display of sexually suggestive images that are explicit
- Gestures that are sexually suggestive
- Unwanted touching
Even if an employee is exposed and not directly involved in sexually inappropriate conduct, that can be considered a hostile work environment. A valid sexual harassment claim doesn’t have to come from targeting an individual. According to California law, the harasser has to be in a supervisory role for them to be liable. If it is simply a co-worker, the employer would then have to be proven to have known harassment was taking place and did nothing to shut it down.
Federal Law and Liability
There are a few differences between federal and state laws. Federal law states that an employer can prove that they followed necessary steps to prevent harassment and promptly acted right when they heard about it, even in the case of a supervisor being the harasser. This makes the employer not liable since the proper actions took place against the harassment being reported. The downside is an employee must be prompt on reporting an inappropriate sexual action having taken place, therefore failing to take the preventative action that was necessary.
State claims might be more preferable than federal being that Califonia law has no limit on employer liability for harassment committed by a supervisor. To file a sexual harassment claim, one must be ready to do more than just head down to the court and file a lawsuit. Here are the 2 options one has to begin with:
To determine whether action will be taken, the agencies investigate the claim thoroughly. They also need to confirm you are a victim of a sexual harassment incident. You may then receive a “right to sue” letter to recover compensation and damages. The employer may retaliate, but you are protected against retaliation as well as your witnesses to the sexual harassment incident.
If you choose either to file through the state or federally, our law firm is here to help you. It will be important that you seek advice from our San Francisco sexual harassment attorney being that we take your sexual harassment case seriously and will treat you with the respect, compassion, and care you deserve. There is a statute of limitations that makes these cases very short, so filing for a lawsuit without delay could prevent any damage or jeopardize your compensation you rightfully deserve.
What Employer Obligations Are There To Prevent Sexual Harassment?
Most employers have certain procedures already in place that are meant to prevent any form of sexual harassment from occurring but this does not mean that it can’t happen. If an employer has over 50 employees, California law states that sexual harassment prevention training must be given to all the supervisors and any who have been hired within 6 months after having acquired their position. Here are some items included in the training:
- Defining sexual harassment according to the state and federal laws
- Types of actions or conduct that constitute sexual harassment
- Remedies or avenues whereas an employee or other work personal can take to aid the victim of sexual harassment that are government or company policy
- Prevention of sexual harassment
- The duty of a supervisor to report an instance of sexual harassment
- Approach for reporting sexual harassment for supervisors
- Answers for supervisors who have personally been accused of sexual harassment
Who Is Qualified To Train Employees On Sexual Harassment?
Under state regulations, the first qualified individual is an attorney who has a current bar membership in the state in which they practice for at least 2 years. Employment law would have to be part of their practice under the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Companies can also use a qualified human resource professional that has 2 years of experience in directing courses involving prevention of harassment, discrimination, acknowledging complaints of sexual harassment or looking into these complaints, and advising the company supervisors and employers about these subjects as well. The last is a graduate who has a law degree or teaching credential, and either 20 hours of instruction about employment law under the Fair Employment and Housing Act or Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Having the right person qualified to instruct your companies employees, supervisors and other workers of all the elements involved in sexual harassment will help insure that every individual will be treated fairly and not subdue to the risks and become a victim of sexual harassment. Our attorneys can aid this process since we have the knowledge needed for the first steps to making the workplace a safe place for everyone.
Protecting Your Rights When You Have Become A Victim of Sexual Harassment
If you have become the victim of sexual harassment and the occurred happened once or multiple times involving inappropriate behavior, you will need to know how to handle the situation. Some may feel it is easier to ignore the problem and move on with their life. Don’t fall victim to such inappropriate acts and live with them the rest of your life. Sexual harassment usually will get worse and continue if the victim does nothing to stop it. A few steps to take are:
- Speaking with a qualified San Francisco sexual harassment attorney. Because of the statute of limitations, your window to file a complaint is limited. So, the sooner you reach out to an attorney, the sooner your rights can be protected.
- Keep a record of the conduct that occurred. These can be in the form of emails, texts, voicemails, or other forms of chats. They will stand as hard evidence in the long run.
Seek Help From A Qualified San Francisco Sexual Harassment Attorney Right Away
The attorneys at Winer, Burritt & Scott, LLP have dedicated their practice to helping people who have fallen victim to sexual harassment in the many forms it takes. Inappropriate sexual behavior happens too often and there are ways to help employers, employees, and companies prevent this unacceptable behavior. Our firm has more than six decades of experience helping clients obtain a successful case and verdict. You can schedule a free consultation that is a no-obligation evaluation. We want to help you and know we can fight for your personal rights when they have been stripped from you.
**We do not represent perpetrators of sexual harassment or those who are accused of sexually harassing behavior.