What Is Sexual Harassment?Sexual harassment can be many things. It includes, of course, the obvious - sexual touching or demanding sexual favors in return for employment opportunities. However, it also includes the less obvious but similarly conduct, such as:
- Offensive comments of a sexual nature
- Sexual innuendoes
- Lewd or sexist remarks
- Crude joking and discussions of a sexual nature with you or in your presence
- Inappropriate advances or propositions
- Questions or comments about intimate relationships
- Discussing pornography
- Other similar conduct
An employer is required to take all reasonable steps to protect its employees against unwanted sexual harassment. A failure to adequately do so is a violation of California law. If you inform your employer that these things are occurring, and your employer fails to immediately investigate and resolve the problem, your employer may be violating California law. If the harasser is a supervisor, the employer can be legally liable for his or her actions even if the employer was not aware of the offensive conduct.
A Forced Sexual Relationship With The Harasser Does Not Disqualify Claim
Succumbing to the advances of a supervisor does not automatically disqualify you from making a sexual harassment claim. While the issue of consent will be raised, many employees may fall victim to the undue influence of a stronger superior in the workplace and still have a claim although they may have participated in a relationship for some time. Additionally, sexual harassment occurs when there has been a consensual romantic relationship that sours, and the aftermath of the breakup results in adverse employment actions against the employee of lesser power.
Sexual Harassment Is Not Just Male-On-Female Harassment
While the most prevalent, sexual harassment is not just male-on-female harassment. Sexual harassment can occur in any situation where the unwelcomed comments or conduct reasonably offends someone of any gender or gender identity, including the following scenarios:
- Female-on male
- Or persons of any gender harassing someone for their gender identity or sexual preference
Sexual Harassment Retaliation
In addition to the above, the law forbids retaliation against employees who report sexual harassment and/or object to or refuse unwanted advances. Retaliation may occur through wrongful termination, unjustified discipline, refusal to promote, demotion, reduction in hours or work, denial of a bonus or raise, transfer to a less desirable shift, or exposure to other less favorable conditions of employment.
Damages in Sexual Harassment Cases
Employees subjected to severe or pervasive sexual harassment may recover for financial loss and emotional distress caused by the violation. In addition, he or she may be entitled to recover attorney fees from the offending employer, and there is a possibility of punitive damages as well.
Contact Pedersen Law, APLC
If you have experienced sexual harassment or retaliation at work, contact Pedersen Law, APLC today to schedule a free telephone consultation with an attorney. No attorneys' fees or costs are paid unless we recover money on your behalf.
Pedersen Law, APLC's Experience Handling Sexual Harassment Matters
Pedersen Law, APLC is a law firm of experienced employee rights attorneys that advocate on behalf of employees who have been sexually harassed or retaliated against at work. For almost 30 years, Pedersen Law, APLC has obtained innumerable favorable verdicts or settlements, recovering millions of dollars for our clients. The firm's managing principal, Neil Pedersen, is a California Super Lawyer, has a "Superb 10.0" rating on Avvo.com, and was recently honored as the 2016 Attorney of the Year by the California Bar Solo and Small Firm Section. Given Pedersen Law's success in representing employees, the firm has been named one of the Best Employment Law Firms in Orange County for several years running.
Representative Sexual Harassment Cases
Below is a sample of sexual harassment matters that Pedersen Law, APLC have handled in the past. Chances are, the firm has litigated a matter like yours. All names have been removed for privacy reasons and in many situations the ultimate result must remain confidential as part of a settlement agreement with the company.
Three Waitresses - Groping, Crude Comments, Retaliation
Three waitress clients were subject to daily sexual harassment by the cook staff in an Inland Empire restaurant. The co-workers would regularly say crude things to these ladies. At times they would press up against them with their bodies, grope them or sandwich them between two of the men and "dry-hump" them. All three ladies complained to the management, but were told that it was not a big deal and they should just avoid the men. With no help from management, the ladies continued to suffer until it simply got to be too much. Each went to the doctor who took them off work to address the severe work stress they were facing from the harassment. The employer then terminated the three ladies. The firm handled the matter through trial, appeal and collection efforts, eventually rendering a final paid settlement in the amount of $2.1 million.
Inside Salesperson - Sexual Comments, Retaliation
Client, a middle-aged woman, was a service drive salesperson at an auto dealership. She had been subjected to years of sexually charged comments and conduct going on around her which she tolerated because she wanted to be a team player. Eventually it got so bad that she reported to the boss that things had to change. Things did change - dramatically for her. After being cold-shouldered by her peers and supervisors, and being called out for every little thing over a period of one year after her reporting of the harassment, she was terminated. The firm prosecuted the case through a month-long arbitration, which resulted in a high six-figure arbitration award and a seven-figure confidential settlement shortly thereafter.
Outside Sales Representative - Unwanted Comments About Body Parts and Sex
Client, an attractive young woman, was an outside sales representative for a staffing company who reported directly to the President of the company. Starting with subtle flirtations, sexual harassment increased by the President by him asking the Client about her personal life, whether she was dating, and what kind of activities she enjoyed. He had a habit of looking her up and down and winking at her as well. He would massage her shoulders in the office, refusing to stop when requested by the Client. He asked if her breasts were real or not. He would suggest the Client go to sales calls in a bathing suit and "do whatever it takes to make the sale," suggesting she use sex to close the deal. Things escalated to regular comments about his wife, penis size and the boss's and the Client's sexual preferences. As there was no one to report this conduct to given the offender was the President of the company, the Client felt powerless to cause this conduct to end. And because this single-mother client needed the job desperately to provide for her child, she worked through this horrendous conduct for months until it started to affect her physically. She went to the doctor, who took her off work to address the stress-induced physical symptoms she was experiencing. She was then terminated for "job abandonment" in spite of having provided the employer with a doctor's note for the time off. The firm prosecuted the case to a successful six-figure pre-trial settlement, the amount of which must remain confidential.
Physician's Assistant - Private Photos Stolen From Computer, Shown to Coworkers
Client, a former swimsuit model, was a Physician's Assistant in a large medical practice. She was asked to provide her personal laptop to the IT person for the company to have some business software installed on it. The IT person searched her laptop and made copies of pictures of the client in swimsuits that had been archived on the laptop, and then circulated those pictures among several of her co-workers. The firm prosecuted this matter, alleging the employer was aware of what the IT person had done and had ratified his conduct by not immediately stopping him and not immediately having him delete the pictures he had copied. The case settled for a confidential amount.
Dental Assistant - Unwanted Sexual Advances, Groping
Client was a Dental Assistant and then Office Manager for a Dentist for over 15 years. Having started as a young woman of 18, the dentist would ask her about her sex life and he would tell her about his. He would watch pornographic material on his office computer in the presence of the client. He would regularly comment on her body parts. He would corner her in the office and say sexually charged things to the client. He often made sex-related comments to the client related to patients in the office. He would regularly come up behind the client, grab her waist and kiss her neck. On one occasion the dentist squeezed her breasts and on another he put his tongue in her ear. Because the job was the only one she ever knew, and because the dentist was the boss, the client felt utterly powerless to deal with the situation other than to simply continue to tolerate it. Eventually, unable to tolerate it any longer, the client quit. The firm prosecuted this case alleging that the client had been constructively terminated because no reasonable employee would have stayed under those circumstances. The case settled for a confidential amount.
Manager - Retaliation For Protecting Herself And Employees From Harassment
Client was a manager in a service business with several employees for whom she had responsibility. Her boss regularly said things to her employees that were sexual in nature. Client went to HR to complain about this regular sexual harassment of her employees by this supervisor. HR told the supervisor about the complaint, and the client was terminated days thereafter for something that had occurred a month earlier and had already been discussed and forgotten. The firm prosecuted a sexual harassment and retaliation case against the supervisor and the employer who failed to protect the client against the retaliation. The matter ultimately resulted in a six-figure confidential settlement.
IT Professional - Multiple Requests For Dates, Threats, Retaliation
Client was a highly educated woman IT professional working in a large company. Her supervisor pressed Client again and again for intimate details of her life such as her divorce, what her ex-husband was like physically, frequency of sex with her fiance, as well as commenting on her personal appearance. He would often talk about how sex with his wife was unsatisfactory. He would regularly invite Client out for dinner or drinks, which Client refused. When she refused, the supervisor would remind the Client that he was a long-term manager in the company and that he knew all the right people to make her suffer if she did not make him happy. At one point he told her that crossing him would be like kissing her job goodbye. After much more of the sexual harassment occurred, with the Client refusing at every attempt, the supervisor turned on the Client. He gave her seriously bad performance reviews, and when he transitioned to a new job, he provided the Client's new supervisor with a seriously negative impression. Ultimately, the Client was laid off, but was included on the lay-off list because of the bad reviews she had received from this supervisor in retaliation for her refusal to "play ball" with him. The firm prosecuted this case all the way up to the first day it was set for trial, when a confidential six-figure settlement was reached.
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This web page is an attorney advertisement. Any examples of prior cases and the results stated therein are by way of example only. Please know that every case is different and your case may well result in more or less value than the ones presented in this advertisement because settlements and judgments can vary widely depending on many factors. No case is an absolute winner. Any case can be a loser, regardless of how strongly you feel about it. The sample matters stated on this page do not constitute a guarantee, warranty, or prediction regarding the outcome of your legal matter.