Sexual Harassment Outside the Office
Being outside of the premises of your workplace does not give your coworkers or employer the right to sexually harass you. Workplace sexual harassment can take place both inside and outside of the office. You may still have grounds for a sexual harassment claim in California after a civil rights violation that takes place outside of the workplace, depending on the circumstances. Discuss your legal options with a Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer for more information.
Types of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is a prohibited form of discrimination based on an employee’s sex. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace and protects employees from unlawful discrimination. This includes harassment and discrimination that technically takes place outside of the office but still during work hours or while on a work-related outing.
Workplace sexual harassment can take many shapes and forms, including:
- Inappropriate jokes, remarks, or comments
- Requests for sexual favors
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Kissing, hugging, or groping
- Sexual assault
- Hostile behaviors or actions
- Threats or intimidation
- Unwanted phone calls or visits to the employee’s home
The two main forms of sexual harassment recognized by federal law are quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo means “this for that” – an offer related to employment that is contingent upon the employee agreeing to a sexual favor. A hostile work environment means that an employee does not feel safe at work due to an atmosphere of offensive conduct or sexual harassment. Both types of sexual harassment give employees the right to file claims.
When Is Conduct Outside the Office Workplace Sexual Harassment?
If you face any type of unwelcome sexual advances or discrimination based on your sex, you are the victim of harassment and have the right to take legal action against your employer in California. This includes sexual harassment experienced outside of the office, in some circumstances. Employees have the right to be free from sexual harassment and hostile environments during work events that take place outside of the office, including:
- Business trips
- Overnight hotel stays
- Client visits
- Door-to-door sales
- Business lunches or dinners
- Holiday work parties
- Fundraisers for work
- Team-building exercises
- Business picnics
- Carpooling to work
- Parking lot sexual harassment
Even if the worker is off the clock, sexual harassment at a work function is against the law. You may be at an increased risk of sexual harassment at a work party or event that takes place at night or involves alcohol. Intoxication and a more relaxed environment can make professionals or customers in your workplace cross boundaries. Sexual harassment is still prohibited, however, and you still have protection as a worker if you were engaging in occupational activities or attending a work-sponsored event.
What Should I Do If I Was Sexually Harassed Outside the Office?
If you experience sexual harassment or assault outside of the office in any type of job-related context, report it immediately. Tell your employer and the human resources department. Keep clear documentation of what happened, including a written description of events, a list of potential witnesses and photographs of any physical injuries. Write down who you reported the sexual harassment to, as well.
Next, report sexual harassment to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC is the government agency in charge of enforcing federal sexual harassment laws. The EEOC can send investigators to your workplace to search for signs of violated worker rights. If your employer did not respond appropriately to your original sexual harassment complaint, the EEOC can intervene to penalize your employer and resolve the issue.
Finally, contact a Los Angeles employment lawyer for legal assistance. You can discuss your case and legal options in detail with a lawyer. If you suffer compensable losses due to sexual harassment outside the office, such as emotional distress, physical injuries or lost wages, a lawyer can help you file a sexual harassment lawsuit in pursuit of financial compensation in Los Angeles. A lawyer will help you seek justice for a violation of your rights as an employee.