Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Attorney
Sexual harassment is a prevalent problem in workplaces in Los Angeles and throughout California. At Mathew & George, we stand up for the rights of workers who suffer sexual harassment, discrimination, and assault at work. Our Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys have years of experience representing victims in cases against large corporations, Fortune 500 companies, insurance providers, and other powerful defendants. If you have suffered any type of sexual harassment, call (310) 478-4349 for a free case consultation with our attorneys.
Why Choose Us?
- Our experienced employment attorneys have spent years handling claims in Los Angeles 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.
Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Resources & FAQs
- What is Sexual Harassment?
- What Does Sexual Harassment Look Like in the Workplace?
- Laws Against Sexual Harassment
- What Are the Different Types of Sexual Harassment?
- When is a Company Liable for Sexual Harassment?
- Compensation in a Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
- How Long do you Have to File a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit in California?
- Contact an Experienced Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyer
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment has a broad definition that can refer to many different actions and behaviors of a sexual nature that a perpetrator commits against a victim. Sexual harassment can be physical, but it does not have to be. It can also refer to verbal or visual harassment, such as making a request for sexual favor or sending a coworker an explicit image via email. Any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in the workplace can constitute sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can also refer to harassing, bullying, or mistreating someone because of their sex. Treating a supervisor with a lack of respect because she is female, for example, is an example of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is often a tool used by perpetrators to keep a victim in a certain place within the company. A male supervisor, for instance, may sexually harass a female employee to maintain the hierarchy of the male sex. Sexual harassment for power and control is more common than for sexual reasons.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), an action or behavior crosses the line from a simple annoyance into sexual harassment if it is frequent or severe enough to create a hostile or offensive work environment, or if it results in an adverse employment action. Although a severe isolated event may meet the definition of sexual harassment, most cases involve a consistent workplace culture of sexual harassment or discrimination that creates a work environment that does not feel safe or productive for workers.
What Does Sexual Harassment Look Like in the Workplace?
Most people think of unwelcome sexual advances when they hear sexual harassment, such as being asked for sexual favors or touched inappropriately at work. While these are valid examples of sexual harassment, they are not the only examples. Many inappropriate behaviors against a man or a woman can qualify as sexual harassment, including discriminatory actions based on sex or gender. General examples of sexual harassment 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 his or her 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. Sexual harassment can also exist between people of any position at the company, from independent contractors to CEOs. It can also be committed by people outside of the workplace, such as clients, customers or contractors. The important factor is whether or not the conduct is unwelcome.
Laws Against Sexual Harassment
As a worker in Los Angeles, you are protected against sexual harassment by a few different state and federal laws. California has some of the strongest and most progressive employment laws in the country. You have many rights as an employee, including the right to take legal action if you face sexual harassment or discrimination at work. Learn more about the laws against sexual harassment so that you can determine which might apply to your unique situation:
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This is the main federal law prohibiting sexual harassment. It bans harassment on the basis of sex and gives a specific definition of sexual harassment. It applies to all employers with at least 15 employees.
- The California Fair Employee Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA protects job applicants and employees from harassment or discrimination based on a protected trait, such as sex, gender, religion, ethnicity, age and disability. Unlike Title VII, FEHA does not list a minimum number of employees that a company must have for its employees to be able to file claims for sexual harassment.
- California Civil Code Section 51.9. This state law addresses sexual harassment in specific careers, including physicians, attorneys, teachers and directors. It prohibits sexual harassment outside of the workplace in the context of business and professional relationships. This is different from FEHA, which addresses sexual harassment within the workplace.
This is not a full list of all of the laws, regulations, and statutes that may apply to your Los Angeles sexual harassment lawsuit. These are the main laws, however, that will allow you to come forward with a complaint and file a lawsuit for the losses you suffered due to harassment or discrimination. Our attorneys at Mathew & George can review the laws in more detail with you during your case.
What Are Different Types of Sexual Harassment?
According to federal law, there are two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Both can cause immense harm to victims in the form of emotional distress, lost wages, lost employment opportunities and wrongful termination. The EEOC provides further guidance on what each of these types of sexual harassment looks like.
Quid Pro Quo
Quid pro quo – or “this for that” – is another phrase for requests for sexual favors. This type of sexual harassment occurs when an employer, supervisor, or someone in a position of power makes an employment benefit contingent on sexual behavior. In exchange for sexual favors, a supervisor could offer:
- 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. Unfortunately, many organizations are guilty of retaliating against employees who come forward with complaints of sexual harassment. If this is a concern of yours, contact an attorney to help you with your case. A sexual harassment lawyer in Los Angeles will understand the harassment itself and the retaliation for reporting such incidents are illegal.
Hostile Work Environment
Unlike quid pro quo harassment, a hostile work environment is a much broader category. A hostile work environment means that harassment behaviors are so severe or pervasive as to create an environment where the worker feels that he or she cannot be productive, or where the worker feels threatened or intimidated. 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. Everyone in the workplace can suffer from an environment that condones or encourages sexual harassment – ultimately impacting company productivity.
When Is a Company Liable for Sexual Harassment?
According to the EEOC, an employer can be vicariously liable for the harassment behaviors of its employees, including managers and supervisors. An employer is automatically liable for harassment by a supervisor that results in an adverse employment action for the victim, such as job termination or lost wages. Automatic liability means that the victim does not need to prove the employer was negligent to qualify for financial compensation.
An employer is only liable for sexual harassment by regular employees or others, such as customers on the premises, if the victim can prove that the employer knew or reasonably should have known about the incident but failed to take the correct actions to remedy the situation. An investigation of the sexual harassment incident will determine the circumstances that surround the case. From there, your lawyer can craft a legal strategy based on what is required to prove liability.
Compensation in a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
At Mathew & George, our main goal for your case is to get you justice. This means holding a harasser and/or company accountable for its mistakes and wrongful actions. It also means pursuing fair and full financial compensation for the losses that arose from the sexual harassment incident. We believe that you should be adequately compensated for the economic and non-economic damages that you suffered as a consequence of sexual harassment. Our attorneys can help you fight for the following damage categories, among others:
- Loss of employment/wrongful termination
- Lost wages (past and future)
- Any related medical costs, including the costs of therapy
- Emotional distress or psychological trauma from the ordeal
- Attorney’s fees and legal costs
- Punitive damages
Most of these damages are meant to make you whole again after suffering sexual harassment in the workplace in LA. Punitive damages, however, are awarded as a means of punishing the defendant. A judge in California may award punitive damages in your sexual harassment case if the defendant’s misconduct was severe, outrageous, wanton, intentional or especially egregious. The main type of compensation sought in a sexual harassment suit is lost wages connected to missed time at work. Lost wages can refer to both back pay and front 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.
In harassment cases that cause 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 harassment. Due to the nature of some companies and businesses, reinstatement is not always reasonably possible, or practical. The relationship between the victim and the 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
Many sexual harassment victims do not realize that they are eligible for compensation for their pain and suffering, as well. 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. This can include physical pain, mental anguish, stress, strain, post-traumatic stress disorder, fear, anxiety, depression, lost quality of life and inconvenience. Proving pain and suffering can be more difficult than financial losses. In some cases, it will depend on testimony from an expert witness.
How Long Do You Have to File a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit in California?
In California, a law called a statute of limitations blocks a plaintiff from filing a sexual harassment claim or lawsuit after a certain amount of time has passed. Under federal law, the statute of limitations on a sexual harassment lawsuit is typically 180 calendar days from the last incident of sexual harassment. This deadline is extended to 300 days, however, if there is a law in your state that coincides with federal law, as is the case in California.
Assembly Bill 9, signed into law in 2019 by Gov. Gavin Newson, became effective on January 1, 2020. This law extends the amount of time that an employee has to file a harassment or discrimination claim with the Department of Fair Employment or Housing from one year to three years from the last act of alleged misconduct. Once the Department gives the plaintiff a Right-to-Sue letter, the claimant has another year to file a lawsuit. Speak to an attorney as soon as possible to avoid missing your deadline.
Contact Our Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyers for a Free Case Consultation
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, call our sexual harassment lawyers in Los Angeles today at (310) 478-4349 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation.
“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.