Los Angeles Attorneys Fighting for Your Workplace Rights
In California, sexual harassment happens if somebody directs negative and unwelcome actions or words at an employee based on their sex or gender, or a reason related to their sex. It can take many different forms, including improper sexual jokes, innuendoes, touching, assault, rape, visual depictions of sexual acts or pornography, derogatory remarks, or aggressive or repeated requests for sexual favors or dates. These can take place in person, or they may be communicated through email, social media, or some other means. If you are subject to coworker sexual harassment, the law allows you to recover damages. You should contact the experienced Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys at the Nourmand Law Firm for counsel and representation.
Coworker Sexual Harassment
Coworker sexual harassment occurs when the harasser is your coworker rather than a supervisor, manager, client, or customer. Sexual harassment does not need to be motivated by desire to be illegal. It can be motivated by bias, personal gratification, or cruelty. Some people are surprised to learn that their employer can be held liable for coworker sexual harassment under certain circumstances.
Both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibit coworker sexual harassment. Title VII prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex, and harassment is considered a form of discrimination by the courts. It applies to California employers that have at least 15 employees. FEHA is the state law that prohibits sexual harassment by coworkers. It is usually more protective of your rights than Title VII is, but it is important to consult an attorney about your specific situation.
In many situations, it is not clear where the line between innocent actions and sexual harassment is. Sexual harassment comes in two types: quid pro quo and hostile work environment harassment. Generally, a coworker can only commit hostile work environment harassment. A coworker’s one-off sexually tinged comment or gesture is unlikely to be enough to count as a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment can be created by a coworker when the coworker’s harassing conduct is severe or pervasive, or it results in an adverse employment decision.
Moreover, an employer usually needs to be aware of the coworker’s sexual harassment and fail to immediately and appropriately correct the situation in order to be held liable for it. You should ask your harasser to stop directly. You should also provide written notification to your employer by following the grievance procedure that is outlined in your employment handbook. If the grievance procedure is verbal, you should still memorialize the notice of your coworker’s sexual harassment in writing. In many cases, you will need to report the matter to HR and include any documentation that supports your claim. For example, if your coworker frequently sends you pornography as attachments to email and makes crude sexual jokes and gestures, you should send the emails and attachments to HR, along with your written account of the jokes and gestures.
Your employer is supposed to treat complaints of coworker sexual harassment seriously. It should investigate thoroughly by interviewing all of the parties involved, as well as witnesses, and providing correction. If your employer offers immediate and appropriate corrective measures, you should utilize them. When you do not think that appropriate corrective measures are being offered, it may be helpful to consult an attorney to determine whether it is likely that the court would view the measures as appropriate.
Damages to which you may be entitled include backpay, front pay, reinstatement if you were terminated or demoted, injunctive relief, and compensation for emotional distress. In cases of egregious employer conduct, it may be possible to receive a punitive damages award to punish the defendant.
Consult a Sexual Harassment Lawyer in the Los Angeles Area
If you are interested in bringing a lawsuit to recover damages for coworker sexual harassment, the Nourmand Law Firm may be able to represent you. We provide aggressive legal representation to workers who have been harmed in Los Angeles, Riverside, San Bernardino, San Diego, Palm Springs, Beverly Hills, Van Nuys, Santa Ana, Newport Beach, and other cities in Los Angeles, San Diego, San Bernardino, Riverside, and Orange Counties. Call us at 800-700-WAGE (9243) or contact us through our online form.