Riverside Sexual Harassment Lawyer

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Riverside Sexual Harassment Attorney

If you are an employee in California, there is a chance that you have experienced or observed some form of sexual harassment while in the workplace. Sexual harassment is a serious event, and it can lead to severe consequences. It’s important that employees understand the rights that they have while at work and understand the responsibilities that employers are required to uphold. Speaking with a Riverside sexual harassment lawyer may be the right solution for you.

Riverside Sexual Harassment Lawyer

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment in California does not necessarily involve sex or sexual acts. It can often include inappropriate behaviors such as offensive stereotypical sexual comments, intimidation, teasing, or bullying on the basis of someone’s sex, gender, or sexual orientation. California state laws define sexual harassment as any unwelcome sexual advancement, requests for favors that are sexual in nature, or other inappropriate sexual conduct that is either verbal or physical, and offensive to a reasonable person.

Types of Sexual Harassment

There are generally two types of sexual harassment in the workplace:

  • Quid pro quo. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when it is either stated or implied that an employment decision is dependent upon an employee submitting to conduct that is sexual in nature. Quid pro quo means “this for that,” meaning that if the employee submits to the requested sexual conduct, they will receive some benefit, often in the form of greater career opportunities.An example of a quid pro quo sexual harassment case would be if an employee is made to believe that if they go on a date or perform a sexual act with their supervisor, then they would be able to receive a promotion or other form of career advancement.
  • Hostile work environment. A hostile work environment claim due to sexual harassment could be made if there is unwelcome sexual conduct that creates an abusive, threatening, intimidating, or otherwise hostile work environment. A hostile work environment creates a space where employees are uncomfortable and unable to perform the functions of their jobs effectively because of unwelcome conduct based upon protected characteristics.It is also important to note that the perpetrator of a sexual harassment claim is not always a supervisor or a superior. There are times when the perpetrator is a peer or customer. In such cases, the employee should report the harassment to their employer immediately. The employer can be held liable if they are aware of the harassment and take no action to stop it.

Common Forms of Sexual Harassment In the Workplace

Some of the most observed ways that sexual harassment can happen in the workplace include:

  • Sexual comments. Sexual comments can include dirty jokes or comments about a person’s physique. Inappropriate comments could also include spreading rumors about an employee’s sexual activity or displaying or distributing pornography. Comments can come in the form of verbal communication, texts, emails, blogs, webpages, or social media.
  • Sexist comments. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act outlaws any offensive conduct that is based on someone’s sex, especially if the conduct is severe enough to create a hostile work environment. Comments do not have to be sexual in nature to qualify as sexual harassment. Comments that are made regarding stereotypes about sex and gender can also be a form of sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Unwelcome advances. Unwelcome advances can happen if someone sends letters, makes harassing and repeated phone calls or office visits, or attempts to pressure an employee into a date or a sexual favor. Advances are typically obvious to spot, but they are still unwelcome and could lead to a sexual harassment claim.
  • Inappropriate touching. Inappropriate touching could be any form of contact that is inappropriate or unwanted, such as hugging, foundling, kissing, or touching oneself in a sexual manner. It is very important for employees to understand that if they witness any form of inappropriate touching while in the workplace, they should report it to a superior immediately.
  • Harassment by others. It is widely understood that it is illegal for a colleague or a manager to harass their employees. However, it is perhaps less widely understood that it is also the responsibility of the employer to protect their employees from any harassment by individuals outside of the company. This can include clients, customers, business partners, or vendors.

What Should I Do If I Experience Sexual Harassment?

If you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace in Riverside or nearby areas, there are a few recommended actions to take:

  • Document everything. It is very important that incidents are documented whenever they happen. If your situation leads to a legal case, your documentation can serve as evidence to support your claim. For example, if your manager has been sexually harassing you over email, you should save the emails in a separate location and document them however you can. If conduct is verbal, it is often helpful to take a note of when the conduct occurred, where it occurred, what was said, and who was present.
  • Make your position clear. It is also important that you make it clear to the perpetrator that their actions are not welcome. You should vocalize that their conduct makes you uncomfortable in the workplace and that their actions are inappropriate. You are not to blame, but a clear refusal will work in your favor. Also, you should voice your concerns to your supervisor or human resources department, where appropriate.
  • Contact an employment attorney. Finally, you should engage the help of an employment attorney who can help review your situation and help you determine the necessary next legal steps.

Employees Are Safe From Retaliation

Sexual harassment cases should always be taken seriously. There are some instances where sexual harassment can lead to serious injury, so it is very important that employees report sexual harassment as soon as they see or experience it in the workplace. It’s also important to understand that employees are protected from any retaliation from their employer if they choose to pursue or file a sexual harassment claim.

FAQs

Q: Are Harassment Cases Hard to Prove?

A: Harassment cases can be hard to prove in some instances. Establishing proof in harassment cases often depends on the level of complexity within the case and how much evidence is present.

In a typical sexual harassment case, the employee would have to prove that they were sexually harassed and that it affected their work environment. Admissible evidence in a harassment case could include the victim’s account, documents of complaints or reports, or corroborating stories from peers or other victims.

Q: What Evidence Is Needed to Prove a Case of Harassment?

A: Evidence needed to prove sexual harassment would include the ability to prove that you were sexually harassed and also that the harassment adversely affected your working environment, making it more difficult for you to perform your job duties. In some cases, the harassment can even lead to a hostile work environment for the victim. Any evidence that can prove the harassment and the effect that it had on the work environment of the employee can be used to build the case.

Q: What are the Four Elements a Plaintiff Must Show to Pursue a Harassment Claim?

A: The four elements that a plaintiff must show in order to pursue a harassment claim are outlined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

As stated by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a complainant must show (1) that they belong to a class that is statutorily protected; (2) they were subjected to unwelcome conduct such as verbal or physical behavior; (3) the harassment was based on the protected class; (4) the harassment adversely affected the working environment of the complainant.

Q: What Is the Burden of Proof in a Workplace Harassment Case?

A: The burden of proof in a workplace harassment case falls on the employee or victim of the harassment. The burden of proof means that the victim is required to provide evidence that they experienced workplace harassment. Victims must prove their claims by a preponderance of evidence (more likely than not).

An attorney experienced in employment law can help you determine what is applicable evidence. An employment lawyer could be a great resource to utilize for help during your sexual harassment case.

Q: Is There a Legal Difference Between Harassment and Discrimination?

A: There is a difference between harassment and discrimination. Harassment is considered unwelcome conduct within the workplace. This conduct is usually serious, and it can adversely affect the employee’s working environment. Harassment typically comes in the form of comments, jokes, or threats.

Discrimination occurs when an employer takes adverse action against an employee because of their race, religion, disability, or any other protected characteristic. Discrimination typically involves hiring, firing, promoting, demoting, salary reduction, or job reassignment because of one’s protected characteristics.

An Attorney Ready to Help You

Sexual harassment is an unfortunately common occurrence within the workplace. The state of California has laws in place to discourage employers from allowing sexual harassment. These laws are intended to encourage affected employees to come forward and file complaints with their employer or applicable government agency. In instances where the harassment is either unresolved internally or is too severe, an experienced employment attorney can provide guidance.

The legal team at Hennig Kramer Ruiz & Singh, LLP, can be a great resource if you have questions regarding sexual harassment in the workplace. As a California employee, you deserve to have your legal rights protected. In some cases, filing claims against your employer is the right step to take to ensure that you do not have to adhere to inappropriate behaviors in the workplace. Contact our team today to see how we can help you through this challenging time.

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