Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Attorney
The Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys at Mathew & George are experienced litigating all types of sexual harassment claims. Most people hear the term “sexual harassment” and associate it with unwelcome touching or advances. However, it does not have to be sexual in nature. It is any form of harassment due to the victim’s sex. This can include offensive or rude comments based on a person’s sex or gender.
Are You a Victim of Sexual Harassment in Los Angeles?
In many cases, informal verbal action can be the first step of action to achieve a quick solution. You can start by telling the person harassing you as clearly as possible to stop the behavior. If this does not work you can inform the management or a higher authority about the employee’s behavior. However, If this also does not work, you should consider getting legal help from an experienced Los Angeles employment law attorney who specializes in sexual harassment cases.
When faced with harassment at work, it is important to know your rights. There are several protections at both the federal and state level meant to ensure the safety of employees. If you feel you have been sexually harassed in Los Angeles, talk with one of our attorneys. At Mathew & George, our employment lawyers want to make sure that your claim is taken seriously by your employer. We offer free initial consultations.
Do You Need a Sexual Harassment Lawyer?
It can be intimidating to go up against an employer with a lawsuit. You may not want to interact with the person who committed the sexual act again. You may not fully understand your rights or have the means to gather evidence against your employer. If you hire a Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer to take care of these tasks for you, your claim can proceed while you focus on physical and emotional recovery. Your lawyer will advocate on your behalf during claim negotiations and ensure a fair recovery amount, when applicable.
Why Choose Us?
- Our experienced attorneys have spent years handling claims in LA and throughout California.
- Our law firm offers the resources of a large firm with the quality and service of a small firm.
- Our employment lawyers tailor legal solutions to each client’s unique needs, situation, and goals.
Let Our Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyers Help You
- How do I file a sexual harassment claim in California?
- What compensation can I get from a sexual harassment case?
- Types of sexual harassment.
- Behaviors that constitute sexual harassment.
- Contact our sexual harassment lawyers.
How Do I File a Sexual Harassment Claim?
Before considering filing a claim with the government, speak with your employer. Many companies have internal policies to contain sexual harassment incidents before they explode into lawsuits. Consult your company’s code of conduct if you encounter any type of unwanted activity at work. In some situations, you might be able to end the harassment simply by talking to the offender or Human Resources. However, if the harassing actions do not stop or your company does not take the claim seriously, you should consider filing with the appropriate agency.
A case can fall under state or federal jurisdiction. In California, state sexual harassment claims are filed with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal anti-discrimination laws. For the DFEH, you must file a claim within one year of the date of harassment. For the EEOC, this deadline is 300 days in California. It is important to note that complaints are automatically cross-filed between agencies.
After filing a complaint, the agency will start an investigation. An agent may contact you to go over the details of your claim and gather any evidence. After looking at the facts, they will contact your employer on your behalf. The agency will invite both you and your employer to participate in mediation to settle the claim. If mediation fails, the agency will then issue a Notice of Right to Sue. This means you have the right to pursue a lawsuit against your harasser.
If you received a Notice of Right to Sue, you will need an attorney. Mathew & George have a track record for success in all manner of harassment-related lawsuits. We believe in tenacious legal representation for every one of our clients and can help you find justice.
What Constitutes as Sexual Harassment?
Some general examples of situations include:
- A supervisor promises an employee a promotion if he or she performs a sexual favor for the supervisor.
- A coworker regularly makes offensive jokes about women, which upset and offend several women in the workplace.
- An employee hangs a calendar in his or her cubicle featuring nude or suggestive photography in plain view of other employees.
- A pregnant employee is refused a promotion because she will soon need to take maternity leave.
- One employee is promoted over another more qualified employee because of sex.
- An employee regularly makes offensive comments about men or women in general.
Remember that victims and harassers can be either men or women, and a victim and harasser can be the same sex. The important factor is whether or not the conduct is unwelcome.
Compensation in a California Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
When unwanted acts leads to an adverse employment action, the victim can file a claim to recover damages. These damages include:
- Back pay. If you were fired or denied due compensation, you can sue for the money you should have earned. This can include lost wages, estimated missed tips or commissions, bonuses, accumulated vacation time, benefits, stock options, or other forms of financial compensation you should have reasonably expected to receive.
- Front pay. In harassment cases that causes the victim to lose their job, the victim will often push for reinstatement to their former position. This can also happen in cases where a person was forced to quit due to the harassment. Due to the nature of some companies and businesses, reinstatement is not always reasonable possible or practical. The relationship between the victim and harassing employer may have been too hostile to warrant a return. In these cases, a judge will award compensation for the time spent between jobs after losing or vacating a position due to sexual harassment.
- Pain and suffering. Sexual advances of any kind can be psychologically distressing. “Pain and suffering” is the legal term for the compensation a victim receives for the harm caused by the harassment. In some cases, this will depend on testimony from an expert witness.
- Punitive damages. These damages are meant to punish the harasser and discourage any future incidents. They may affect other areas of the organization aside from the harasser. For example, a director knew about a subordinate manager’s inappropriate behavior and did nothing to deter or prevent the conduct. If so, the director can be held liable for the harassment and forced to pay punitive damages. In California, there is no set cap for punitive damages.
Type of Sexual Harassment
Quid Pro Quo
In Latin, quid pro quo means “something for something.” That’s exactly what happens in this type of harassment. It occurs when an employer, supervisor, or someone in a position of power makes an employment benefit contingent on sexual behavior.
This type is what people most often think of when they consider workplace sexual harassment. In exchange for sexual favors, a supervisor offers:
- a promotion
- favorable performance reviews
- sought-after positions
- assignments or shifts
Quid pro quo can also occur if a supervisor threatens retaliation if the employee doesn’t agree to the demands. This can include:
- the risk of job loss
- bad performance reviews
- unfavorable shifts
- pay cuts
It is illegal if a supervisor commits even a single action of quid pro quo sexual harassment. Even if the employee doesn’t yield to the demand, it can serve as the basis for a lawsuit. Employees who suffer this type of harassment must be able to report their incidents without any risk of retaliation. A sexual harassment attorney understands the harassment itself and the retaliation for reporting such incidents are illegal.
Hostile Work Environment
Unlike quid pro quo harassment, hostile work environment is a much broader category. It encompasses activities that many people may not even realize are forms of sexual harassment, such as:
- Sexual comments or jokes
- Unwanted and persistent interactions, such as asking for dates continually
- Interference with someone’s ability to move freely
- Displays of inappropriate or offensive materials
- Unwanted sexual advances
- Negative or discriminating behavior towards sexual orientation
Verbal or physical conduct that is sexual in nature can contribute to a hostile work environment. Any employee at any level can contribute to a hostile work environment. It can also affect employees who aren’t the intended target of harassment.
Any of these activities must be unwelcome, frequent, and persistent to be a case of harassment. Isolated incidents don’t count as harassment; continued incidents do.
While not all employees act as an extension of the company, an employer may still be liable for a hostile work environment in a lawsuit. There must be proof that:
- the employer knew or should have reasonably known about the conduct
- did not take immediate steps to prevent the behavior
When the employer does take such steps, the company may have a defense for the hostile environment suit.
Some harassers may feign ignorance if confronted about their unwelcome behavior. Some may attempt to brush it off as joking or harmless. This is not a viable excuse. California state law requires employers to conduct regular sexual harassment training for employees. The DFEH requires two hours of training every two years, and new hires must receive this training within the first six months of hire.
Other Behaviors That Constitute Sexual Harassment
- Physical contact. Any type of unwanted touching, groping, or other physical contact counts as unwanted sexual actions or behavior. If the action is violent or severe, it can also constitute sexual assault or aggravated assault. This can include actions of a sexual nature or physical harassment based on the victim’s sex.
- Verbal abuse or Bullying. Light teasing will not count as sexual harassment in court. If someone makes offensive jokes about a person’s sex, it is important to say that the speech is unwelcome and offensive. In some cases, verbal harassment may affect several people in the workplace. Even if the speech targets one person, other people nearby may also consider it harassment.
- Visual harassment. Harassment can also take the form of sexually suggestive photographs or images in plain view of others. An example is an employee who pins pictures of women in bikinis or lingerie in their work space where others can easily see them. This behavior may not intend to make people feel uncomfortable. However, it is important that you ask the offender to keep them out of the view of others if it is offensive.
- Discrimination against pregnant or nursing mothers. It is illegal to discriminate against pregnant women. Employers have special obligations to pregnant employees. Making rude remarks about a woman’s pregnancy or a nursing mother’s need to pump breast milk at work is sexual harassment. Although the harassment is not sexually suggestive in nature, the victim is targeted due to her sex.
Free Case Evaluation With Our Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyers
Mathew & George has the knowledge and resources to create a strong sexual harassment claim on your behalf. We can help you settle your matter out of court or face your employer in the courtroom. You may be eligible to receive back pay, front pay, reinstatement of your job, pain and suffering damages, and punitive damages. Your claim could give you the financial relief you need to pay your bills and move forward. It could also hold an irresponsible or criminal defendant accountable for sexual acts. For more information about your claim, schedule a free consultation at our local law office in Los Angeles.
“I have seen the high level of skill, effort and passion that Mr. Mathew can bring to a case. On the case in which I observed his work, I respect his practical approach and effort to keep legal expenses under control while still putting on a strong defense.” – D.M.