Helping Sexual Harassment Victims Practice Their Rights
With Offices in Los Angeles and San Diego we are Southern California's Premier Sexual Harassment Attorneys
Know Your Rights
"I was sexually harassed by my boss for years. I complained many times, but the company never took my complaints seriously. They laughed and ignored it. I was terrified of losing my job and not being able to support my family, so I felt I had to live with the harassment for many years. When I finally couldn't take it anymore, I made a formal, written complaint. It was one of the most traumatic work experiences I've ever had. The company went out of their way to make me very uncomfortable. That's when I called the Sexual Harassment Justice Center. They helped me through one of the most difficult experiences of my life and negotiated an excellent resolution for me so I could leave the company and start another, better job. I am so thankful.".....
Are you one of the many Californian's who experience the destructive realities of sexual harassment or other workplace harassment? Most employees suffer in silence and experience strained relations with supervisors, co-workers, friends and loved ones. The first step to stopping the pain is learning what constitutes illegal harassment.
Victims of sexual harassment may feel conflicting emotions. On the one hand, they may feel anger, disgust and a loss of self-esteem. On the other hand, they may feel afraid and anxious about the possibility of losing their jobs — especially if the CEO, or the owner or manager of the company where they work is the person harassing them.
Both federal law and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibit sexual harassment. In California if a manager engages in sex harassment against an employee under their direct supervision, the company may be held strictly liable. Furthermore, employers cannot retaliate against you because you complain about sexual harassment.
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is defined to include:
- Unwelcome verbal conduct such as derogatory jokes, epithets, sexual advances or invitations, and other comments;
- Unwelcome visual conduct such as derogatory and/or sexually-oriented posters, photographs, e-mails, cartoons, and drawings;
- Unwelcome physical conduct such as sexual assault, unwanted touching, groping, or massages, simulated sex acts, blocking normal body movement and interfering with work because of sex, race or any other protected basis.
- Threats and demands to submit to sexual requests as a condition of continued employment, or to avoid some other loss, and offers of employment benefits in return for sexual favors.
- Foul language
- Inappropriate touching
- Obscene gestures
- Online and social media
- Porn on screen
- Refusing sexual advances
- Sexual advances
- Sexual assault
- Sexually explicit jokes
- Sexual notes or emails
- Sexual pictures
Generally, federal and California law only protect employees against severe or pervasive harassment in the workplace. This means that, while a workplace sexual assault most likely will constitute sexual harassment, a single offensive comment, isolated touching, or rejected advance--without more--is rarely enough to qualify as unlawful sexual harassment..
Federal and State Laws protect employees from sexual harassment at the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. At the Sexual Harassment Justice Center we look at each sexual harassment case individually and carefully examine the facts of each case rather than automatically filing every sexual harassment case as a federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) law violation.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can occur in many different types of situations, including but not limited to these situations that we represent employees on:
- Continuous lewd sexual comments about an employee by the employer
- Unwelcome touching of an employee by an employer
- Lewd emails, texts, or telephone calls by an employer to an employee
- Verbal or written offers by an employer to pay an employee money or to promote the employee, in exchange for having sexual relations with the employer
There are many different types and forms of sexual harassment that can occur in the workplace. Many of these claims can be pursued under California state law for assault if there is any un-consented touching or groping and many times we also pursue claims of intentional infliction of emotional distress when the offensive conduct is outrageous and causes extreme mental anguish.
At the Sexual Harassment Justice Center. we vigorously pursue cases against employers who are the business owners or high-level supervisors for sexually harassing their employees. In California it is illegal for an employer to even touch an employee in a manner that would be considered offensive or provocative by a reasonable person. Even threatening to assault another person (such as an employer threatening to assault an employee) is illegal in California
The Sexual Harassment Justice Center has successfully obtained monetary (money) settlements against doctors, lawyers, and business owners who have molested and assaulted their employees by kissing their employees, by touching their employees’ buttocks or breasts, and by making repeated and unwelcomed lewd statements of a sexual nature
There are cases in which a person may be a victim of a Sexual Exploitation even though they may have actually consented to having sexual relations with the offender. These cases usually hinge on relationships involving trust and positions of power, including these relationships:
- Doctor – Patient
- Psychiatrist -Patient
- Therapist – Patient
- Social Worker – Patient
- Psychologist – Patient
- Family Counselor – Patient
- Clergy – Penitent
- Priest – member of church congregation
- Preacher – member of church congregation
- Minister – member of church congregation
- Rabbi – Member of Synagogue
- Lawyer – Client
In these situations it is not uncommon for an unscrupulous predator to exert their power and control over their patient (or their client) to coerce the other person to “consent” to a sexual relationship. Although the victim may have “consented” it is a consent that the law may not recognize as being legitimate and this may give rise to a civil claim for Sexual Exploitation.
Situations that we commonly see are doctors, therapists, and psychiatrists coercing their patients to have sex with them under the guise that it is part of therapy or will assist them in treating the patient's mental condition.
Other situations that arise, involving sexual abuse and exploitation, may be situations in which a lawyer agrees to waive or reduce his legal fees in return for their clients having sexual relations with them.
At The Sexual Harassment Justice Center we may be able to assist victims of sexual exploitation in asserting a civil claim for damages against:
- Doctors sexually exploiting or abusing their patients
- Mental Health Therapists or Family Counselors sexually exploiting or abusing their patients
- Psychologists, Social Workers, or Psychiatrists sexually exploiting or abusing their patients
- Clergy, Ministers, Preachers or Rabbis exploiting or abusing members of the congregation
- Dentists sexually exploiting, molesting, or abusing their patients
- Lawyers sexually exploiting or abusing their clients
- Physical Therapists molesting their patients
- Massage Therapists molesting their clients
Becoming a victim of sexual exploitation can result in a lifetime of pain and mental anguish. Though you may survive this abuse of trust and sexual exploitation, you will never forget the pain of being exploited and abused by your therapist, doctor, or counselor. You will always have to deal with the emotional trauma of being victimized by a person that we are supposed to be able to trust. Whether you were exploited by an acquaintance, a trusted professional, or a stranger, you have the right to pursue a civil action against your abuser
Many employees fear reporting sexual harassment out of concern for retaliation. Sexual harassment law, however, prohibits an employer from retaliating against an employee who complains or reports conduct that the employee believes, in good faith, is sexual harassment.
The law also prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who participates in a sexual harassment investigation. Even if an employee cannot recover on a claim of workplace sexual harassment for technical, legal reasons, an employee still may recover unpaid wages and for emotional distress is he/she experiences unlawful retaliation.
Many victims fear that reporting the matter will result in retaliation. Perhaps their boss will demote them, give them a poor work performance evaluation, or simply fire them. Worse, victims may fear that no one will believe them.
The most difficult decision any victim of sexual harassment has to make is the decision to no longer accept it. California's Sexual Harassment Justice Center can assist you through this often confusing process by helping you to formulate your complaint, assisting you with the investigation stages of your complaint and, if necessary, vindicating your right to be free from unlawful harassment through litigation. If you are experiencing sexual harassment do the following and get in touch with us right away.
- Tell the harasser that their conduct is unwelcome, illegal, and must immediately stop. Each time. Every time! No means NO!
- Report the incident to your manager, Human Resource, and the sexual harasser's supervisor.
- Submit your complaint in writing. If your complaint is verbal, follow it up with an e-mail.
- Make sure that your complaint shows that the sexual harassment is as a result of your sex or other protected class membership.
- Begin keeping a journal so that you can provide it to your lawyer.
- Don't resign!
- If the sexual harassment doesn't stop or you're dissatisfied with your employer's response, contact the EEOC and California's Workforce Commission. Time permitting, seek legal advice from a the Sexual Harassment Justice Center before you file an administrative complaint with the EEOC or California labor board.
Once you are represented by counsel, your employer may be less likely to take adverse actions against you, including demotion, termination, changing the conditions of your employment or other retaliatory treatment. In fact, if your employer treats you unfairly because you complained about or filed a claim for sexual harassment, they risk liability for additional damages under state and federal law
If you've been sexually harassed in the recent past or are currently being harassed, you can either continue to take it or you can stand up for your rights. We will explain your rights and possible courses of action. We are experienced in negotiating favorable severance packages so that you can close the door and put this negative experience behind you.
Civil law allows crime victims and victims of sexual harassment and sexual exploitation to sue defendants for monetary (money) damages for medical treatment costs, mental health counseling treatment costs, lost wages if you are unable to work because of your mental or physical injuries, and mental anguish suffered. In cases where the jury finds that the defendant acted with malice, the jury can make an exemplary damage award of money damages to the victim, to punish the defendant. This exemplary damages award is also referred to as “punitive damages.”
If you have been sexually harassed in the workplace, we want you to know that you do have rights and there is legal recourse. The Sexual Harassment Justice Center works hard to protect the civil rights of employees throughout all of the Southern California Areas.