Workplace Sexual Harassment
There’s already an inherent imbalance of power between an employee and their employer, and, sadly, many employers (or employees in positions of authority, such as managers and supervisors) often choose to exploit this power to their advantage. If you are experiencing sexual harassment from an employee, superior, or co-worker, the workplace can become a frightening place where you don’t feel safe to thrive. Depending on the circumstances, you may not even feel comfortable reporting the harassment (for instance, if your employer is the harasser or is close to the harasser, or if the harasser has power over your position).
Employers are generally aware of the power they hold over employees, and have a choice to use it to foster a safe and inclusive workplace, or to abuse it and refuse to right wrongs, suppressing or retaliating against anything and anyone who threatens their image or bottom line. At the Law Offices of David M. Boertje, we are prepared to fight for you, and what’s right.Sexual Harassment Under California Law
Sexual Harassment in the workplace is illegal under California law and federal law. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) divides sexual harassment into two broad categories: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment.Quid Pro Quo Harassment
Quid pro quo harassment, meaning, “this for that,” is true to the translation of its name. This applies to situations where an employer makes a work-related benefit or an adverse employment action contingent upon a subordinate employee submitting to their sexual advances. For instance, if an employee’s supervisor tells her that she’ll be fired unless she starts to “show him some affection,” or an employee’s boss tells him that he’ll get the promotion if he accepts her dinner invitation. In both of these situations, quid pro quo harassment has occurred.
It is important to note that in order to qualify as quid pro quo harassment, the harasser must have actual power over the employee’s employment or position, such as a manager, supervisor, or boss. If a coworker with the same level of authority as the employee harasses them, even if they are threatening adverse employment action, this will not be considered quid pro quo harassment because it is understood that the coworker does not actually have the authority to implement any negative employment action against the employee. However, this could still constitute hostile environment harassment, as described below.Hostile Environment Harassment
Hostile environment harassment is the most common type of harassment experienced in the workplace. Anyone can create or contribute to the creation of a hostile work environment, so this type of harassment is not limited to supervisors and superiors. A hostile environment is one in which an employee is confronted with unwanted conduct, based on sex, that creates an intimidating or offensive environment for working. While it’s common for people to accuse victims of being “too sensitive,” the bar for assessing hostile workplace harassment is what a reasonable person would find hostile and offensive. In most cases, the employee is not being too sensitive, but rather, has been tolerating objectively offensive behavior for far longer than most would care to. If you are wondering if you have a claim, ask yourself if a reasonable person standing in your shoes would find the conduct offensive? Chances are if you are reading this, part of you already knows the answer is yes.Schedule a Consultation
If you are experiencing unwelcome conduct that makes you feel unsafe or uncomfortable at work, you do not have to navigate this already unfair process on your own. Contact our offices today, serving San Diego County, and all of greater Southern California. If you have an issue with your employer in California, we can help you solve it. Don’t waste any time, as California has a relatively short timeline for filing workplace harassment suits. We offer free consultations by phone and online 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.