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Sexual misconduct: Subtle and not-so-subtle signs

There has been a wave of coverage in the media lately regarding the sexual misconduct of many powerful people in the entertainment industry, with new allegations surfacing on what has started to seem like a daily basis. As unpleasant and shocking as some of these stories may be, when they are brought out into the light, the responsible parties are forced to be held accountable for their actions. This is surely a positive development for the victims of these acts, some of whom have been carrying these secrets for years. 

Even so, the sheer number of stories coming to light is starting to paint a disturbing picture of a problem that could be more widespread than many of us were truly aware. This begs the question: For every accusation made public by one victim, how many more victims still remain silent? As everyone knows, sexual misconduct in any form is certainly not unique to the entertainment industry. These scenarios play out all over the country - in different workplaces, in a variety of industries - every single day. By making an effort to be more aware of the misconduct in your own workplace, you may be able to spare someone else from an unwanted sexual encounter, as well as make your workplace safer in general by raising awareness about this issue.

Sexual harassment laws in California

California law defines sexual harassment using two categories:

●      Quid pro quo, which refers to situations in which a supervisor uses their position to offer employment perks in exchange for an employee’s allowance of unwanted sexual advances.

●      Hostile work environment, which refers to what could be considered an abusive environment that is the result of the unwelcome and inappropriate sexual conduct of one or more other employees. The misconduct in question does not necessarily refer to direct sexual advances. 

While the details relevant to different types of jobs will vary, this list contains examples of some of the most common types of sexual misconduct that occur in a work setting.

Examples of common acts of sexual misconduct in the workplace

●      Inappropriate sexual imagery displayed anywhere in a workplace

●      Asking of questions which are sexual in nature, including questions about sexual preferences or orientation

●      Sending or sharing pornographic images or videos with coworkers

●      Unwelcome and inappropriate touching, including patting or pinching, as well as intentional body contact

●      Sending suggestive emails or other communications

●      Telling stories or jokes that are sexual in content

●      Suggestive staring, whistling, or making inappropriate gestures

It’s up to all of us to help ensure that positive, permanent changes are made in the way sexual misconduct is handled at our workplaces. One way to do this is to report any sexual misconduct that you either experience or observe happening to others. When these events are reported consistently, it will begin to create a new standard of tolerable behavior in the workplace and this can act as a better deterrent against further misconduct. If you would like to speak to an attorney about sexual misconduct that is happening at your own workplace, we invite you to contact our offices today. 

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