Sexual Harassment FAQs

Facing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

A Sexual Harassment Attorney in Los Angeles Can Answer Your Important Questions

Many women during the #MeToo movement have shared their experiences with workplace sexual harassment. As a result, more people, primarily women, are reporting harassment and registering complaints with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). A sexual harassment attorney in Los Angeles from our firm may be able to help you file a complaint and take legal action against your employer and anyone who is sexually harassing you at work.

The sexual harassment attorneys at YMS have decades of experience representing victims of workplace sexual harassment. We understand the seriousness of your situation and will aggressively pursue justice on your behalf. Here is a list of frequently asked sexual harassment questions, along with answers to each question.

California Sexual Harassment Frequently Asked Questions

What Is Sexual Harassment?

California law defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, including any visual, verbal or physical actions of a sexual nature. The two main categories of workplace sexual harassment include quid pro quo and a hostile work environment.

“Quid pro quo” describes a type of sexual harassment where a harasser pressures and employee to engage in sexual activity in exchange for promotion, retention of job, or some other type of employment benefit.

A “hostile work environment” harassment exists when the harassment in the workplace is severe or pervasive and alters the terms of an employee’s work environment.

How Do I Prove That My Employer Engaged in Sexual Harassment?

There are several elements that must exist in order to prove that your employer engaged in sexual harassment:

  • Sexual conduct need not take place. To establish sexual harassment, you do not need to show that harassment was sexual in nature. Rather, you need to show that the conduct against you was because of your sex.
  • The conduct was unwelcome. The actions taken by your employer must be unwelcome. An employee does not have to say “no” or “stop” to communicate that the conduct is unwelcome. However, evidence must be provided that clearly demonstrates the unwelcomeness of the conduct in question.
  • The conduct is severe or pervasive. Your employer’s sexual conduct must be either severe or pervasive. Severe conduct includes actions like rape or assault that are serious yet may be isolated incidences. Pervasive conduct involves examining an employer’s behavior over an extended period of time in order to determine if his or her collective actions meet the state and legal standards for sexual harassment.
  • The conduct is both objectively and subjectively offensive. Being objectively offensive means that a reasonable person in your situation would find your employer’s conduct offensive. Being subjectively offensive means that you personally found your employer’s behavior to be offensive. Both elements must exist in order to prove that your employer engaged in sexual harassment.
  • Your employer’s conduct resulted in actual damages. There must be actual damages suffered as a result of your employer’s sexual misconduct. This may include economic damages, such as lost wages for missing work, or noneconomic damages such as emotional or physical distress.

What Are the Most Common Types of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

There are two main categories of workplace sexual harassment:

  • Quid pro quo. Quid pro quo is a form of sexual harassment where an employee faces pressure to engage in sexual activity in exchange for preferential treatment. This preferential treatment generally involves promotions, job retention or other employee benefits.
  • Hostile work environment. A hostile work environment is created when a harasser’s conduct negatively impact the victim’s work environment. This includes making repeated sexual advances, jokes or comments that cause an employee to feel intimidated or threatened. It also includes isolated incidences such as rape or sexual assault.

What Are My Options If I Decide to File a Sexual Harassment Complaint Against My Employer?

You have several options if you decide to file a sexual harassment complaint against your employer:

  • Inform your employer about the harassment. It is important to determine whether or not your company has a sexual harassment policy. If they do, then you should read it and act accordingly. Your ability to pursue other legal remedies may be negatively impacted if you fail to report the conduct. You should also know that your employer cannot legally retaliate against you after you have reported his or her conduct.
  • File a complaint with the appropriate state or federal agency. California employees can file a sexual harassment complaint with the DFEH. Complaints made to the DFEH are automatically cross-filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), so there is no need to file two separate complaints. The DFEH will look into your complaint and determine if they want to pursue an investigation on your behalf. You may also consult an experienced sexual harassment lawyer who may advise you to obtain an immediate right-to-sue letter instead of permitting the DFEH to investigate the claim.
  • Bring a civil action against your employer. Once you receive a right-to-sue letter from the DFEH, you can file a sexual harassment lawsuit against your employer in court. Our sexual harassment lawyers in Los Angeles will help you litigate your claim and hold your employer accountable for his or her misconduct.

What If There Are No Witnesses When I Was Sexually Harassed at Work?

If no witnesses were present when you were sexually harassed at work, then you should follow proper procedure when reporting your complaint. It is important to have as much documentation as possible to corroborate your story. You should begin by notifying your employer of the sexual harassment. Most employers allow their employees to submit formal complaints in writing.

However, if your employer does not have a written policy, then you should report it to a supervisor or the Human Resources (HR) department. By following proper procedure, you are giving your employer ample time to correct the problem. If he or she fails to make the necessary changes, then an attorney can use it against them in court.

What Are the Legal Elements Associated With a Hostile Work Environment?

Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), a hostile work environment is established when inappropriate behavior becomes severe or pervasive enough to create an abusive work environment for one or more employees.

Protected traits under California’s hostile work environment law include (but are not limited to) race, religion, gender, age, disability and sexual orientation.

Contact a Sexual Harassment Attorney in Los Angeles From Our Firm

Sexual harassment should never be a part of your workplace experience. If this is the case, then you should seek help from our Los Angeles harassment lawyers.

Contact the Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers at YMS today at (310) 919-0091 for a free initial consultation. You can also contact us online and tell us about your workplace experience. We promise to carefully review the information you provide and look forward to meeting with you soon.


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