Sexual harassment can take a variety of forms, and when it takes place in the context of an employment and/or hiring situation, it can form the basis of a sexual harassment lawsuit against an employer and/or individual employee. California employment law provides strong protections for employees and applicants who are subject to sexual harassment, and the employment law attorneys at the Access Lawyers Group will work with you to investigate the facts of your situation and fight to win the justice you deserve under the law.
Illegal sexual harassment occurs in three main scenarios: 1) when an employee is denied a job or employment benefits as a result of refusing to provide sexual favors or tolerate sexual harassment; 2) where an employee quits a job as a reasonable response to sexual harassment; or 3) an employee is subject to an offensive work environment. Thus, whether you’ve been denied a job or quit a job due to sexual harassment or are currently subject to sexual harassment, you may have a sexual harassment claim.
The actual conduct that constitutes sexual harassment necessary to prove a sexual harassment claim under California law can be found where any of the following occur:
- Unwanted sexual advances, including verbal sexual advances
- Touching, assault, blocking, or impeding access
- Offering a job or benefits in exchange for sexual favors
- Leering, sexual gestures, and derogatory or offensive comments
- Display of offensive materials (cartoons, pictures, etc.)
- Threatening reprisal for turning down sexual advances or complaining
If any of the above situations have occurred, you may have a valid sexual harassment claim against the offending employee and potentially the employer if the employee was in a managerial role or if the employer knew about the conduct or simply failed to provide a sexual harassment program.
You may have faced negativity or threats for trying to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace, but the attorneys at the Access Law Group will listen to your story. Sexual harassment cannot be tolerated on the job, and offending parties should be held responsible so others don’t have to suffer. Contact one of our employment litigation attorneys today to schedule a consultation regarding your sexual harassment claim.
Pasadena Employment Lawyers
Our knowledgeable employment law attorneys at Access Lawyers Group fight hard to protect employees whose rights have been violated. We can also advise employers on policies, procedures, and compliance with state and federal regulations. Employment law matters we handle include:
- Exempt and nonexempt employees
- Sexual harassment
- Meal and rest breaks
- Workplace discrimination
- Other types of workplace harassment
- Wrongful termination
The areas of employment law that we handle and can advise you on include the following:
Exempt and Non-Exempt Employees
Whether you are an exempt or non-exempt employee depends on the type of work you perform. As a non-exempt employee, you are entitled to overtime pay, rest breaks, minimum wage and meal periods.
Certain conditions determine this classification:
- Are you paid at least twice the state minimum wage for your monthly salary for full time work?
- Are you able to exercise discretion and independent judgment in more than half your time performing your job?
- If a salesperson, are you an outside (exempt) or an inside salesperson?
- If you are considered or called a manager or professional, you still have to meet either the pay requirements or be able to exercise discretion and independent judgment to be considered exempt.
- Are you an executive directing other people or is your opinion given weight in hiring, promoting or otherwise determining the status of other workers?
- Is your title administrative and, if so, are you generally supervised and possess specialized knowledge and training or do you directly assist other administrators or executives?
Meal and Rest Breaks
Does your employer have clear rules or a policy regarding meal and rest breaks? Employers do not have to ensure you take a rest or meal break so long as it is provided. Workers are entitled to an unpaid, off duty 30 minute meal break if they work more than 5 hours. The break must be uninterrupted with no obligation for the worker to perform any duties or be pressured into performing. Other meal breaks are required under other conditions.
Also, a 10-minute rest is required for non-exempt employees for every 4 hours worked or “major fraction thereof.”
If you are not receiving your breaks, are required to perform duties on break or not getting rest periods despite working certain hours, consult with one of our attorneys.
Discrimination in the Workplace
State and federal laws prohibit discrimination in the workplace based on an individual’s particular characteristics. California expanded the list, which includes banning workplace discrimination based on race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, marital status or sexual orientation.
The various laws protecting workers include federal legislation, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), Age Discrimination in Employment and the Equal Pay Act, along with California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. There are timelines on filing a claim with federal agencies requiring 180 days, while the state’s is one year.
Employers may not treat individuals or groups differently based on the characteristics noted above. You can prove discrimination based on disparate treatment (i.e., only males under 35 are promoted) or on disparate impact (an apparently neutral policy disproportionately affecting pregnant women for example).
If disabled, you can request that your employer provide you a reasonable accommodation unless certain conditions prevail. There are a number of conditions and complexities regarding this aspect of discrimination.
If you feel you have been targeted or are part of a group that has been unfairly treated, contact our office.
Sexual and Other Harassment
Despite awareness of this problem, sexual harassment is not uncommon. Harassers include supervisors as well as co-workers, employees from other departments or even vendors or customers of the employer. It consists of offensive and sexually tinged comments, unwanted advances, offensive and unconsented touching or intimidation and can target parties of the same sex. Another form is a quid pro quo situation where a supervisor makes it clear that dating or providing sexual favors will result in certain benefits — or a denial or job termination if consent is not given.
Harassment can be directed at members of a certain ethnicity or religion as well. If it creates a hostile working environment where an employee is unable to adequately perform, then the employer may be held liable for damages including lost wages, reinstatement and infliction of emotional distress.
Most employees in California work without a contract or agreement and can be fired at-will, meaning they can be dismissed at any time and for without cause. However, an employer may not fire you based on a discriminatory reason such as pregnancy, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion or ancestry, among others.
We can help determine if you were an at-will employee based on an implied contract by looking at promises made to you, duration of employment, job performance evaluations, assurances of job security and employment practices.
Retaliatory firings are not uncommon either, based on public policy concerns. For instance, you may not be terminated for:
- Voting on election day
- Serving on a jury
- Serving in the national guard
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim
- Notifying OSHA about a workplace safety violation
You do have the burden of proving discrimination or other unfair termination allegations, which are rarely blatant. Our attorneys are highly knowledgeable in this area and can investigate and assess the validity of your claim and your legal options.