Sexual Harassment

TYPES

Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual conduct. There are two types: quid pro quo harassment and hostile environment harassment.

⇒ Quid pro quo harassment is when an employee’s job depends on the submission to unwelcome sexual advances, such as a supervisor saying “you want a future in this company, you’d better have sex with me”

⇒ Hostile environment harassment is when the employee’s work environment is made hostile or abusive by sexual misconduct

There also is gender or sex-based harassment. This type of harassment involves hostile conduct against the employee based on gender issues, such as a supervisor making hostile comments that “real men aren’t nurses” or that “women don’t belong in the work place.”

SEXUAL MISCONDUCT

Sexual misconduct may include:

⇒ Unwanted sexual advances or propositions

⇒ Verbal conduct, including sexual or inappropriate nicknames, derogatory comments or comments about a person’s body, appearance or sexual activity

⇒ Non-verbal conduct, including leering looks, offensive gestures or derogatory posters, cartoons, pictures, or drawings

⇒ Physical conduct, including assault, blocking movement, or any physical interference with normal work or movement

HARASSMENT BY SUPERVISORS

In California, if a supervisor sexually harasses or retaliates against an employee under his or her supervision, there are grounds for a strict liability claim against the employer. This means that if the employee can prove that the harassment occurred, the company is automatically liable for damages awarded against the supervisor, regardless if company knew about the harassment or attempted to stop it.

HARASSMENT BY CO-WORKERS OR CUSTOMERS

Employer may also be held liable for harassment by a co-worker, customer or independent contractor if the employer knew or should have known about the harassment, but failed to immediately and appropriately stop it.

EMPLOYER’S DUTIES TO PREVENT HARASSMENT

Employers are required to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent harassment. If harassment does occur, employers must take steps to change the harasser’s behavior. Employers also must take steps to prevent future harassment by others, such as educating employees about harassment issues, including how to report harassment, and implementing disciplinary measures for harassment.

RETALIATION FOR REPORTING HARASSMENT

Employers are absolutely prohibited from retaliating against anyone who complains about witnessing or being a victim of sexual harassment.

DAMAGES

Employees that sue under California law may recover damages for past and future medical and psychiatric expenses, past and future wage loss, damages for emotional distress and punitive damages.

SEEK CONSULTATION

If you have been sexually harassed, contact us for a free consultation.