What to Know

Sexual Harassment Laws - California

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace. Los Angeles, California.

Sexual harassment lawsuits

If you believe sexual harassment led to your firing, demotion, not getting a promotion, not getting hired, or some other adverse action at your job, call us at 888-762-0297 to discuss your case.

We can help clients resolve their sexual harassment claims in Los Angeles and throughout California.

We do not charge for consultations.

What is sexual harassment?

In California, sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances and requests for sexual favors, whether the advances or requests are motivated by sexual desire. Sexual harassment can be a single severe act, such as a physical assault, or daily offensive comments, jokes, or actions that change your working conditions and make it more challenging to do the job. Sexual harassment often includes the unwelcome or inappropriate promise of rewards in exchange for sexual favors.

In California, sexual harassment is a form of discrimination because of sex. It includes harassment based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions.

As the #me-too movement ramps up to fight for justice, definitions of what constitutes unwanted sexual advances or inappropriate behavior continue to change.

If you think you’ve been sexually harassed in the workplace, contact an experienced employment lawyer. We invite you to call us at 888-762-0297 to discuss your situation.

Sexual harassment laws in CA

The sources of law in California prohibiting sexual harassment includes the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) at the state level and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 at the federal level.

What is sexual harassment and what is not

Sexual harassment may include unwanted sexual advances, offering employment benefits - in exchange for sexual favors, sending you sexually suggestive photos, cartoons, posters, derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, or jokes.

Non-sexual harassment may include any comment, action, or behavior that is threatening, insulting, intimidating, or discriminatory and upsets the workplace environment. It may still be prohibited harassment - just not necessarily sexual harassment.

Why sexual harassment occurs

Sexual harassment does not discriminate against gender, and it can happen to both men and women.

Women employed in fields traditionally considered "woman's work" are led to believe that a certain amount of male domination and sexism is ok. However, what constitutes sexual harassment shouldn't depend upon the type of workplace, even if the frequency of sexually related conduct or commentary in that field was historically more significant. Women who try to break into these historically all-male fields frequently suffer even more intense sexual harassment. Today, the #me-too movement encourages sexual assault victims to speak out about their experience, and it changes many previously accepted norms.

What should an employee do if they feel they are sexually harassed?

If you are experiencing harassment in the workplace, know that you have rights.

First, review your company’s sexual harassment policy to confirm the options and requirements for reporting the incident(s) according to the company policy.

Second, report the incident to your employer and confirm the report is documented.

Third, it is crucial to keep a record of each incident of harassment, including the date, time, people involved, details related to each event, and when you reported it to your employer. Be specific. In some cases, a failure to report the conduct may impact your ability to further pursue remedies against your employer.

Finally, find an experienced employment lawyer who can help you file a complaint with the right state or federal agency. For further information, call us at 888-762-0297.

How to prove sexual harassment at work?

It is essential to maintain a record of all sexual harassment claims. Your evidence must include documentation of the offensive behavior and your employer’s failure to protect you. Documentation of the harassment and your damages should consist of the following:

Communications from the harasser, including emails, voicemails, text messages, and others;

Your complaints and the company’s responses (or lack of a response);

Your employee policy handbook and your employer’s written sexual harassment policies (if any);

Testimony from witnesses; and

Any photos or videos of incidents.

Remember, when a sexual harassment claim is brought against an employer, you must provide the necessary evidence documenting the alleged harassment and its relationship to your employment, termination, demotion, or pay cut.

Fired for filing a sexual harassment complaint

So, you reported your harassment to your employer, and they fired you? It’s unfortunate but not uncommon. The law protects your right to work without being subjected to sexual harassment and the right to report it. It means it is against the law for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting sexual harassment or other illegal activity. Retaliation by terminating your employment is against the law. You need to contact a California employment lawyer immediately.

Sexual harassment: How long will it take to settle a lawsuit?

It is difficult to provide an answer to this without first knowing about your case. Keep in mind that every case is unique. Several factors need to be considered, including the case's facts, the number of parties involved, evidence, whether there is a trial or a settlement before trial. Sexual harassment cases frequently settle before trial. Claims that involve multiple plaintiffs ("class actions") and those of higher value could take longer because the plaintiff(s) are inclined to fight harder, and the employer wants to fight back to bring down the case's worth or to now allow class action certification.

If you want to know how long it may take to settle your case, call our office and ask to speak with an employment lawyer.

What is the average settlement for sexual harassment?

There is no such thing as an average settlement. Each case is different. Your compensation may depend on the claims you made, the parties involved, the available evidence and witnesses, and many other factors.

If you are successful in your sexual harassment claim, the amount you can get in compensation - also called "damages," depends on the kind of harm you have suffered and can include back pay, front pay, compensation for any "pain and suffering," and attorney fees.

For more information

Call us at 888-762-0297 and ask to speak with an employment lawyer.

We take all sexual harassment cases on a contingency basis, which means there is no fee if there is no recovery. We also advance the costs of the case, which are to be repaid only if we successfully recover for you.

We don't charge for consultations.

We represent clients in Los Angeles and everywhere throughout the entire state of California.

Last updated on September 23, 2021.

Related Articles

• Harassment claims in Los Angeles and California - Overview

Additional Resources

• Sexual harassment and Civil Rights Act 1964

FAQ: Sexual harassment - California Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)