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Wrongful Termination Based on Sexual Harassment

Employment Lawyers for Workers in California

It can be degrading and humiliating to be treated adversely in the workplace due to your sex. You should not be sexually harassed in the workplace. Sexual harassment often occurs in situations involving a power imbalance. When you refuse sexual advances in the workplace or complain about sexual harassment in good faith, you are protected under federal and state laws. It is illegal for your boss to fire you in response to your refusal of advances or complaint. If you received a wrongful termination based on sexual harassment, you should call our seasoned California wrongful termination lawyers. At The Nourmand Law Firm, we have represented workers whose rights have been violated for more than two decades.

Wrongful Termination Based on Sexual Harassment

Generally, employment is at will in California. This means that you can be fired or quit for any reason or no reason. However, you cannot be fired because you have a characteristic protected by law or because you engage in a protected activity, such as complaining of sexual harassment. Wrongful termination occurs when an employee is fired for illegal reasons, such as refusing sexual advances or complaining to Human Resources or an outside agency, such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), about sexual harassment.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibit workplace sexual harassment. Title VII applies only to those workplaces with at least 15 employees. However, our attorneys may be able to establish wrongful termination based on sexual harassment under FEHA if you work in a workplace with at least five employees.  

What Counts as Sexual Harassment That You Should Report?

You may not be sure whether what happened to you was bad enough to constitute sexual harassment. There are two kinds of sexual harassment:  quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an employee is subject to unwelcome sexual advances, and it is made clear that continued employment is dependent on submitting to or putting up with these advances. If you were terminated because you refused to be groped at a holiday party by your supervisor, for example, you may have grounds to recover damages in a wrongful termination lawsuit.

In order to establish hostile work environment sexual harassment under FEHA, you would need to establish that you faced unwelcome sexual advances, the harassment was based on your sex, and the harassment was so severe or pervasive that it altered the conditions of your employment. So long as you complained to HR or filed a lawsuit in good faith, your employer should not retaliate against you for reporting a hostile work environment.

Not only your harasser is liable for hostile work environment harassment but also their employer when the harasser is in a supervisory position with power over your job. Employers can also be liable for a coworker’s acts when they knew or should have known about ongoing harassment and did not act adequately in response.

Retaliation After Reporting Sexual Harassment

It can be important to report harassment to HR or another superior in writing. In response, the employer should investigate what happened. It should not retaliate against you by firing you, laying you off, or otherwise acting adversely with regard to your employment relationship because you exercised your rights under FEHA or Title VII.

In some cases, retaliation is subtle. For example, a company might begin laying a paper trail to show that you had poor performance, even though you did not. Your employer can terminate you for poor performance, but not for complaining about sexual harassment or for refusing sexual advances.

Consult an Experienced California Attorney

If you believe that you received a wrongful termination based on sexual harassment, you should discuss what happened with the experienced California attorneys at The Nourmand Law Firm. We represent workers in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, and Riverside Counties, as well as Oakland and Sacramento, among other areas. Complete our online form or call us at 310-553-3600 or 800-700-WAGE (9243).

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