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Sexual Harassment Attorney in Orange, California

Everyone wants to feel safe and secure no matter where they are. We take for granted that places like our home or work will provide this for us. But what happens if you start to experience sexual harassment in the workplace? You still have to show up every day to earn a paycheck while also figuring out how to navigate an extremely difficult situation that can have lasting negative effects on your well-being. The good news is there are laws on the books to help you and support you—but it can still feel difficult to confront this issue and seek out the assistance you need.

Reach out to us at The Guha Law Firm to learn more about how federal and state sexual harassment laws can help protect you. Our employment law attorney is able to represent individuals in and around Orange, California, and throughout San Bernardino, Los Angeles, and Riverside counties. 

Overview of Sexual Harassment

The term sexual harassment can be tricky to define since it’s so easy to dismiss subtle comments and microaggressions as one-off instances. However, when this behavior occurs frequently or creates a hostile work environment, these actions can become unlawful. Sexual harassment in the workplace needs to be addressed to create a safe working environment for all employees.  

At its most basic level, sexual harassment is when a person is harassed due to their sex, but in reality, it can take many forms depending on the circumstances such as: 

  1. Unwanted sexual advancements 

  1. Requesting sexual favors 

  1. Making jokes or offensive comments about a person’s body parts 

  1. Calling someone names related to their sex or gender

  1. Unwanted touching including grabbing or pulling at clothing

  1. Communicating via email or text about body parts or sex 

  1. Making jokes or disparaging comments about someone’s gender or how their gender doesn't match social norms

  1. Sharing unwanted pictures or videos of a sexual nature with someone else 

  2. Exposing your private parts to someone else 

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Who Can Be a Harasser? 

Some people mistakenly believe that sexual harassment at the workplace can only occur from the top down, meaning that the harasser must be a boss or someone in a position of authority who’s engaged in inappropriate comments or actions with a subordinate. However, anyone can be a harasser in the workplace. This includes:  

  1. Supervisor    

  1. Coworker 

  1. Agent of the Employer  

  1. Non-Employee (for example, a client or customer)  

  1. Same-Sex Harassment (the harassment doesn't necessarily have to come from someone of the opposite gender.) 

Laws Addressing Sexual Harassment

Fortunately, there are strong laws in place that can protect victims of sexual harassment. At the federal level, legislation such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act applies to any employer with 15 or more employees. Technically, this law protects employees from discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability, or age.” If someone is in violation of this law, you may be able to file a complaint against them with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). 
At the state level, California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act protects employees from sexual harassment and complaints can be made through the California Civil Rights Department (CRD). A skilled attorney can help you fully understand how the various laws may apply in your unique situation.

Employer Liability 

In most cases, to prove employer liability for sexual harassment, you must show that the employer was aware that the harassment was happening and didn’t make a reasonable effort to correct or address it. You may wish to consult with an employment law attorney before filing an official complaint to ensure you have the documentation and evidence you need to mount a successful claim. However, you should never feel embarrassed or reluctant to make the initial report to your employer if you feel you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment. Sometimes early reporting is enough to stop the harassment before it gets out of hand. Whenever possible, try to obtain a written statement from your employer that acknowledges the complaint was made and also describes the action steps they will take to address it. 

Retaliation Prohibited 

Importantly, retaliation is prohibited for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace because your reporting is known as a “protected activity.” This means that if you do report unwanted sexual comments or actions to your employer, they cannot take action against you solely because of this. This could include:

  1. Giving you a negative performance review just because you reported

  2. Firing you 

  3. Transferring you to a lower position

  4. Reducing your pay or hours 

  5. Spreading rumors about you  

  6. Creating a more difficult work environment

  7. Threatening you in any way 

Sexual Harassment Attorney in Orange, California

Sexual harassment in the workplace is simply unacceptable and is something you don’t have to live with. If you’d like to learn more about your rights as an employee and your options for addressing harassment, contact our team at The Guha Law Firm in Orange, California.