Sexual Harassment Attorney

Expert Sexual Harassment Attorneys

Employees who face sexual harassment in the workplace may be caught of guard and feel unsafe or uncomfortable. The thought of being approached by someone for sexual advances or favors in a professional work environment can cause employees to even develop emotional distress. Unprofessionalism and harassment can make it difficult for victims to re-enter the workplace, resulting in added fear of what an employer or co-worker will do to them next. 

Employers who take advantage of their position to sexually harass an employee are in violation of California’s labor and employment laws. Victims are entitled to file a lawsuit to recover damages.

At West Coast Employment Lawyers, we understand the severity of these claims. 

Our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers will assess your situation, protect your legal rights, pursue all avenues of compensation, deliver an aggressive argument against the opposing side, and represent you in court if your case heads to trial. 

We operate on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that you owe us nothing until we settle your case. Our mission is to offer top-notch legal representation to everyone in need. 

To schedule a free case evaluation with one of our top-rated sexual harassment lawyers, we welcome you to contact us by calling 213-927-3700, emailing [email protected], or completing our online contact form located on the bottom of the page.

What Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Sexual harassment in the workplace is when an applicant or employee is experiencing verbal or physical harassment that is of sexual nature. It may also involve an employer requesting to receive sexual favors or have an applicant or employee comply with sexual advances.

Other than an employer, a coworker or a client is also known to commit sexual harassment. The harasser can either be a woman or a man, and of the same sex.

According to a study conducted by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), between 25 to 85 percent of women report sexual harassment in the workplace. Many of these women are typically low-wage employees, making them more vulnerable to such mistreatment. 

The EEOC has also shared that complaints of sexual harassment being filed by men have doubled within the last twenty years. It is said by labor and employment experts that men typically speak up about sexual harassment far less than women due to the fear of being mocked or teased for it.

An employer who commits sexual harassment may progressively create a toxic and unwelcoming work environment for all employees. It could also result in adverse employment decisions, such as firing or demoting an employee for not accepting or performing any sexual requests or advances the employer requested for them to do. 

What Laws Protect You Against Sexual Harassment?

There are federal and state labor and employment laws in place to protect you from sexual harassment, whether the perpetrator is a supervisor, coworker, customer, or a client you may be doing business with. 

In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) exists to prohibit all forms of sexual harassment in the workplace. FEHA protections will apply to: 

  • Employment agencies,
  • Private employers,
  • Public employers,
  • Labor organizations,
  • Employment agencies, and 
  • Companies with five or more employees.

The primary federal law that prohibits all forms of sexual harassment in the workplace is the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Much like FEHA, Title VII applies to most public and private employers, union and employment agencies, labor organizations, and state and local governments with 15 or more employees.

What Types of Conduct Are Considered Sexual Harassment?

California takes any form of conduct tied to sexual harassment very seriously. Despite various legal protections intended to prevent this egregious behavior, the issue persists. Anytime a job applicant or employee is subject to unwanted sexual advances or verbal harassment, it is likely that they have been the victim of behaviors that FEHA define as instances of sexual harassment. 

The sections below are just a few examples of sexual harassment in the workplace.

Unwanted Physical Contact 

If you are experiencing unwanted physical contact by another employer or coworker, this may be identified as a form of sexual harassment. Some cases of non consensual physical contact include:

  • Brushing up against you,
  • Rubbing your shoulders, 
  • Hugging you,
  • Touching your hair, or
  • Using objects to touch you.

The employer or coworker who subjects you to any form of physical contact may think of it as “accidental” or “harmless,” however, you have the right to complain if you do not agree with their actions.  

You Are Made to Feel Uncomfortable

There are several ways to make someone feel uncomfortable other than physical touch.  Text messages, videos, and emails can all easily subject someone to non consensual  sexual behavior.

If you have already recognized that an employer’s misconduct is making you feel uneasy, it’s important to contact an a Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer. They will assess your situation to determine if you are entitled to file a sexual harassment claim.

Being Treated Differently Based on Your Sex 

Being singled out or treated in a particular way because of your sex is another sign that you may be a victim of sexual harassment. For instance, an employer may only treat female employees in a special way or show favor exclusively to them in hopes that they may receive sexual favors in return. 

What Is the Difference Between Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault?

Sexual harassment involves unwelcome verbal, physical, or emotional contact in a sexual nature whereas sexual assault strictly involves non consensual physical contact. This includes the following:

  • Unwanted sexual contact,
  • Penetration with a foreign object,
  • Forcing someone to perform sexual favors, or
  • Rape or attempted rape. 

Sexual harassment is generally a civil matter. However, if it gradually worsens, it can be classified as criminal law.

What Is Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment? 

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an employer asks an employee for sexual favors in return for employment benefits, such as a raise or promotion. The sexual favor could be a kiss, date, or intercourse. Employers who commit quid pro quo harassment are aware of the position they are in and take advantage of it to get what they want.

Not only can an employee be a victim of quid pro quo harassment, but an applicant may experience this form of mistreatment, as well. For instance, an employer may request the applicant to perform a sexual favor in order for the applicant to work for the company. If the applicant refuses the offer, the employer will threaten to reject their job application.

What Should You Do if You Witness Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

If you witness sexual harassment in the workplace, you can step in to help your coworker or distance yourself from the situation. You are not required to be a hero. However, involving yourself in such a serious matter can greatly benefit the victim, especially if they need solid evidence, like a witness statement. 

Providing a witness statement can greatly benefit the victim if they choose to pursue legal action against the employer. Your perspective of the incident can bring the truth forward, and may help determine what form of punishments the employer should face for violating California’s labor and employment laws.

How Do You Recover From Sexual Harassment? 

Recovering from sexual harassment can be difficult. However, there are many methods available to help you overcome this unfortunate event. 

See a Therapist

Expressing your thoughts or feelings to a therapist will help you deal with your sadness, insomnia, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Those who choose to seek help from a therapist have shown signs of happiness, reassurance, or empowerment. If they are committed to attending every therapy session, they will progressively overcome negative feelings that were triggered by the harassment.

Do Self-Care Activities

Focus on self-care. This includes working out, meditating, or getting enough sleep. Performing these activities can help you cope with your stress and increase your energy. 

Seek Support From Friends or Family

Allow your friends or family to be present during this difficult time in your life. This can benefit your mental health. Not only will they provide a sense of comfort, but they can also give you emotional support and advice on how to manage your symptoms.

Who Do You Report Sexual Harassment to?

If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment, you should report it to HR. Be very clear when you describe the problem. Do not forget to make a copy of your internal complaint.

Once you have submitted the form over to HR, they will investigate the problem to fix the issue. However, it is possible that your internal complaint will not be resolved and may even go ignored. Even if your complaint does not achieve anything and the harassment persists, your claim will still be strengthened because:

  • You have written documentation that your employer was aware of your complaint and did not take any reasonable steps to investigate or stop the harassment.
  • You can counter any argument that you failed to take advantage of your employer’s anti-harassment policies.

If you were not satisfied with the way HR handled your complaint, you may file a charge of harassment with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)You will be given up to 180 days to file a charge starting from the date of when the harassment took place. 

What Damages Are Available in a Sexual Harassment Claim?

The following is a list of available damages you may be awarded in a sexual harassment claim:

  • Medical bills,
  • Lost wages,
  • Loss of enjoyment of life,
  • Emotional distress,
  • Attorney’s fees, and 
  • Court costs. 

Punitive damages is typically granted at the court’s discretion when it has been proven that the defendant committed malicious, intentional, or harmful actions towards the plaintiff. 

There will be a limit on how much compensatory damages and/or punitive damages are granted in a sexual harassment case. This will vary based on the size of the company. 

  • A limit of $50,000 applies to employers with 15 to 100 employees.
  • A limit of $100,000 applies to employers with 101 to 200 employees.
  • A limit of $200,000 applies to employers with 201 to 500 employees.
  • A limit of $300,000 applies to employers with more than 500 employees.

The Best Sexual Harassment Lawyers are Found at WCEL!

If you are a victim of sexual harassment, you are entitled to file a lawsuit against your employer to recover damages. You will be required to gather evidence to prove that your employer went against California’s labor and employment laws. 

At West Coast Employment Lawyers, our Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyers will help gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your legal rights. We work on a contingency-fee basis, meaning that our services are free until your case has been settled.

To schedule a meeting with our team, you may contact us by calling 213-927-3700, emailing [email protected], or filling out our quick contact form located on the bottom of the page. We are available 24/7 to answer phone calls, emails, and form submissions.

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