Most experts agree that sexual harassment in the U.S. and around the world goes mostly unreported. Studies report that anywhere from 40 to 90 percent of women in the U.S. have been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace or while performing job duties. The majority of sexual harassment complaints — nearly two-thirds — are filed against women’s immediate supervisors.
Sexual Harassment Case Results at Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP
Our lawyers obtained $1.3 million for two women who were sexually harassed at a factory owned by a large corporation. The plaintiffs complained of the sexual harassment, but received no help from their employer. See more verdicts and settlements we have obtained for our clients.
For a free and confidential consultation about your case, call (510) 433-1000.
Company Liability And Sexual Harassment
In California, employers may be held strictly liable in cases of managerial or supervisory sexual harassment.
In the case of sexual harassment initiated by a co-worker, employers are not strictly liable. If the employer did not know or had no reason to believe that the current or past harassment by the co-worker took place and a program to prevent sexual harassment was already in place, the employer may be able to avoid liability. However, if the company knew or should have known that the sexual harassment was occurring or had occurred in the past or that the co-worker was at risk for sexually harassing others, the company can be held responsible.
It is important to discuss these matters with an experienced sexual harassment attorney.
Will Talking about Workplace Sexual Harassment Bring Change?
News of sexual harassment has dominated the headlines. It started with Harvey Weinstein, then news of other scandals came to light, exposing a dangerous side of working in Hollywood. These star-studded scandals have created a trickle-down effect, with workplaces and college campuses opening a dialogue about sexual harassment and how we can better protect people from it. This begs an important question: Will talking about sexual harassment in the workplace actually spur positive change?
The Importance of an Open Dialogue
The discussion about sexual harassment, as it pertains to both men and women, can lead to remedies and protections for vulnerable workers. For example, the Chicago City Council recently passed a “Hands Off Pants On” ordinance that requires all hotels to install a panic button system, along with a stringent anti-harassment policy. This measure is the result of months of lobbying by local hospitality workers on advocacy grounds. Similarly, a New York law is currently in the works that would offer additional protections to fashion models. But are these measures enough?
A Split Nation
CNN recently hosted a town hall discussion that inspired debate about sexual harassment in America. A small majority of Americans think that sexual harassment has reached a tipping point, with 52% believing that an open discussion will lead to change. The remainder, however, take a more pessimistic view, with 44% reporting that giving this much attention to the issue will make it more difficult for men and women to work together professionally.
That doesn’t change the fact that change is occurring at organizational levels around the nation. Here are some of the highlights:
- Sexual harassment training required for Senators and aides. A bipartisan measure easily passed the Senate, which requires both aides and Senators to participate in sexual harassment training. It also requires education on discrimination regarding religion, race, and disability. The initiative, according to one of the sponsors, will help create a safe place for everyone to work.
- News anchors take a stand. Gretchen Carlson was one of the former Fox News anchors who went public with her allegations of sexual harassment against Roger Ailes. In the time since, she reported that dozens of women have reached out to her with similar stories. Carlson went public with the statement that companies should rehire women who filed sexual harassment charges, and should fire the predators who made them feel unsafe at work.
A Long Way to Go
Despite some positive changes and an open dialogue, a recent poll says that sexual harassment in the workplace is still rampant. In fact, about 33 million American women have been sexually harassed, and 14 million have been sexually abused in incidents at work. In most instances, their harassers were never punished.
In other words, we have a long way to go before we can sustain positive changes in sexual harassment at work. Employers must make a better effort to ensure that people feel safe at work, while taking appropriate steps to punish offenders and make sure predators lose their jobs.
What Is The Difference Between Sexual Harassment And Flirting?
Sexual harassment is almost always about an aggressor asserting power over a victim. In the workplace, this can detrimentally affect the work environment, making it a hostile and abusive place to work. Aggressive, pervasive, offensive or persistent references to sexuality in the workplace are an abuse of power.
Expressing sexuality does not justify harassment. The difference between sexual harassment and flirting, joking or asking someone on a date is that harassment is unwelcome and persistent.How Do I Prove Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is distressing, and it is pervasive. It affects a victim’s work and personal life. Women may experience sexual harassment from men or other women. An aggressor abusing his or her authority or just being outright offensive is capable of causing serious physical, emotional and financial damage. You do not have to put up with it.
Speak with an experienced employment lawyer about filing a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The steps involved in sexual harassment litigation and properly filing a lawsuit are complex and require professional care.
Important to note: It is not sexual harassment if you like, want or welcome the conduct. Speak with a knowledgeable lawyer to determine if the conduct related to your gender, sexual orientation or other sexual reference qualifies as harassment.
Contact Our California Sexual Harassment Attorney
Winer, McKenna, Burritt & Tillis LLP offer free consultations, and we pursue all cases on a contingency fee basis.
Contact us at (510) 433-1000 toll free for representation throughout Northern and Southern California.
**We do not represent perpetrators of sexual harassment or those who are accused of sexually harassing behavior.