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Supervisor Sexual Harassment

Employment Lawyers Assisting Workers in Los Angeles

Under federal and California law, supervisor sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances or physical acts or words of a sexual nature. It could include leering, displaying sexually suggestive or explicit pictures, touching, assaulting, impeding a walker’s path, offering employment benefits in return for sexual favors, threatening retaliatory action after being sexually rebuffed, making graphic-verbal remarks about someone’s body, and making derogatory comments. If you are facing supervisor sexual harassment, you should consult the Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers at The Nourmand Law Firm about the viability of a lawsuit to recover damages.

Supervisor Sexual Harassment

Both Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibit supervisor sexual harassment, and both impose liability on the employer for illegal harassment by supervisors. Under Title VII case law, employers are always liable for a supervisor’s sexual harassment if it culminates in a tangible employment decision. However, when it does not so culminate, the employer may be able to reduce damages or avoid liability altogether by proving that it used reasonable care to stop and correct the sexually harassing behavior, but the employee unreasonably failed to take advantage of the corrective measures that were provided by the employer or otherwise avoid harm.

In most situations, FEHA provides greater relief than Title VII. Under FEHA, supervisors are people who have the power to hire, terminate, transfer, discipline or reward an employee, or who are authorized to use independent judgment to recommend such actions to others in a company. Supervisors in the state are supposed to be appropriately trained. When a supervisor sexually harasses an employee in California, they can be held legally accountable, and so can the employer.

Federal and state anti-discrimination laws treat supervisors differently from other types of employees. Employers need to actually know about coworker sexual harassment before they can be held liable for it. However, supervisors are considered “employers” under FEHA, such that the company can be held liable for their sexual harassment, regardless of whether the company actually knew about it or ratified it, or not. Supervisors can also be held individually liable. The rationale is that the company is responsible for giving the supervisor power and should be responsible for the sexually harassing acts that they take with that power, even if others in the company do not know about the sexual harassment.

Employers are strictly liable for a supervisor who sexually harasses other employees if the supervisor is acting in the course and scope of employment at the time of the sexual harassment. In contrast, your attorney would need to show that the employer knew or should have known about the sexual harassment but failed to correct the situation in order to hold the employer liable for employees who are not supervisors. Additionally, a less powerful supervisor who knows about another supervisor’s harassment but does not do anything about it will not be personally liable for failing to respond appropriately.

Many people are afraid to come forward with claims of supervisor sexual harassment in spite of the strong protection offered by FEHA. If your employer retaliates against you for coming forward with a complaint about a supervisor’s sexual harassment, you may have a claim for retaliation, even if it turns out that a court or jury does not agree that you were sexually harassed by the supervisor. Retaliation under FEHA includes any adverse employment action taken by an employer because an employee opposes practices forbidden under the law or because an employee files a complaint or testifies under FEHA. The supervisor will not be individually liable for the retaliation, however.

Contact a Dedicated Sexual Harassment Lawyer in Los Angeles

If you are dealing with supervisor sexual harassment, The Nourmand Law Firm may be able to represent you. Our attorneys offer vigorous 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 elsewhere 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.

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