Have you experienced sexual harassment at work? At Ferraro Vega we understand how this can make work a traumatizing experience and even force you to quit your job. Schedule a free consultation with a San Diego sexual harassment lawyer at (619) 693-7727.
Both federal and state law offer legal protection against sexual harassment and give you the right to file a lawsuit to seek legal remedies and damages. We will fight for you and help you exercise your right to a safe workplace free of unwanted advances and offensive behavior.
How Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers Can Help with Your Sexual Harassment Case
When your employer violates employment law, you may be facing an uphill battle in your claim. Employment law in California is notoriously complex and there are many requirements you must meet before you can even file a lawsuit. An experienced San Diego employment attorney offers not only expertise in federal and state employment laws but sound legal guidance to give you an edge in your fight.
Winning a claim against your employer can be challenging. Your employer likely has much more experience in handling claims and greater resources. When you turn to Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers, you benefit from a lawyer who knows what information you will need, how to get it, how to present a strong case, and how to fight back against unfair tactics from your employer.
Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers focuses exclusively on employment litigation. We work with clients in every type of industry, from service and hospitality to healthcare and defense. Our sexual harassment lawyers gained crucial experience working at some of America’s largest law firms and now put this experience to work for California workers on a contingency-fee basis.
Turn to Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers so we can put our knowledge of employment law to work for you by:
- Offering sound legal advice at every stage of your claim
- Help you document your harassment and gather evidence to support your case
- Correctly applying the right employment laws to your case
- Ensuring the correct steps are followed within the deadline
- Handle all negotiations on your behalf
- Present your case in court if necessary
You do not have to navigate complex employment law and face a difficult battle against your employer alone. Contact Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers for a free case review with a San Diego sexual harassment attorney who is here to help.
What Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?
California law makes all types of sexual harassment illegal in the workplace. Sexual harassment does not always involve sexual advances; it can also involve discrimination, bullying, or unwelcome behavior targeting an employee’s gender. Both men and women can be the victims of sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can be committed by:
- Bosses and supervisors. When a supervisor engages in sexual harassment, California law holds the employer strictly liable.
- Coworkers. The employer is responsible for your damages if they were negligent by failing to take action when they knew or should have known about the harassment.
- Third parties such as independent contractors.
Under federal and state law, harassment at work becomes illegal when it is so severe or frequent that it creates an offense or hostile environment or causes an adverse employment action. There are two broad types of sexual harassment that are covered by several federal and state statutes.
Federal and California Laws on Sexual Harassment
Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes employment discrimination based on sex, religion, race, color, and national origin illegal. This federal law applies only to employers with 15 or more employees but it recognizes both quid pro quo and hostile work environment sexual harassment.
By covering harassment “on the basis of sex,” federal law also protects against harassment for medical conditions related to gender such as pregnancy and childbirth.
You are also protected by the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Unlike the federal law, the California law applies to all local, state, and private employers. The state law is typically more favorable to employees and offers the strongest legal protection against sexual harassment.
In addition to making discrimination due to race, color, ancestry, disability, and veteran status illegal, Section 12940 of FEHA makes it unlawful to harass an employee due to:
- Gender identity
- Gender expression
- Sexual orientation
Even if the Civil Rights Act of 1964 does not apply to you in your workplace, you are protected against sexual harassment by FEHA.
Employer Requirements for Sexual Harassment Training & Prevention
California has state-mandated sexual harassment training requirements under FEHA. While most states only require sexual harassment training in the government sector, California requires it for most private-sector employers.
California employers must:
- Take reasonable steps to prevent and stop harassment
- Create a policy and procedure with a complaint mechanism that doesn’t require an employee to make a complaint to their immediate supervisor
- Post legally required employment posters
- Conduct sexual harassment training for supervisors (employers with 50+ employees doing business in California and all public employers)
- Train employees on sexual harassment prevention (if the business has 5+ employees)
Sexual harassment training is one crucial step that employers can take to protect employees from sexual harassment. Failing to meet this requirement also opens employers to increased liability for quid pro quo and hostile workplace harassment.
Quid Pro Quo vs. Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment: What’s the Difference?
Sexual harassment cases fall into one of two categories: quid pro quo or hostile work environment. Here’s what you need to know.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a superior offers some type of positive employment action in exchange for sexual favors. This may involve the promise of a raise, a promotion, or even refraining from taking negative actions against the employee like termination or a demotion.
This type of harassment can only be committed by a superior who is in the position to take some type of employment action against the victim.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment is illegal under federal law and allows you to seek damages against your employer. Under California law, a supervisor who commits harassment may be personally liable as well.
Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment
Unlike quid pro quo harassment, anyone at your workplace can commit harassment by creating a hostile work environment. This type of harassment does not require a threat of adverse employment action, only that the harasser engages in unwelcome conduct based on sex that creates a hostile, intimidating, or offense workplace.
To have a claim, the harassment you have faced must be more than trivial, occasional, or sporadic. Your claim will be evaluated based on the pervasiveness and severity of the conduct. Harassing behavior may be verbal or physical and it does not always have a sexual nature. There are many ways in which a workplace may be hostile such as coworkers who:
- Frequently tell lewd jokes
- Allow sexually derogatory comments and banter
- Engage in offensive touching or physical acts like sexual gestures
- Bully employees based on gender
- Repeatedly making unwanted sexual advances after rejection or punish an employee for rejecting an advance
If you believe your workplace has become hostile, an employment lawyer can help determine if the behavior fits the definition of conduct of sexual harassment in the workplace.
What Should I Do If I’ve Been Sexually Harassed at Work in San Diego?
If you have been the victim of workplace sexual harassment, there are some steps you should take immediately to protect your rights. If your employer’s grievance policy has not ended the harassment, make sure you report the harassment in writing to your employer. This does not only give them an opportunity to correct the issue, it’s also required before you can sue.
Gather as much evidence as possible of the harassment. This may include messages or treatment that has caused a hostile workplace or statements or threats from a supervisor. Next, file a report with the California Office of the Labor Commissioner and the EEOC, an additional requirement before you can file a lawsuit.
If your employer does not correct the problem when given the chance, consult with a San Diego sexual harassment lawyer at Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers to help you bring a claim against your employer.
What Damages Are Available for Sexual Harassment in California?
If your sexual harassment claim is successful, you may have the right to recover damages for the harm you have suffered. There are many forms of compensation and other legal remedies you can be entitled to due to a hostile work environment, retaliation, and negative employment actions.
This may include:
- Back pay if you were terminated, demoted, had your pay decreased, or suffered other lost wages
- Front pay for the “lost” future earnings if you lost your job or had to quit due to harassment
- Reinstatement instead of front pay when appropriate if you will not suffer a hostile work environment and a job is available
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Punitive damages, which are designed to punish an employer or harasser for egregious behavior
The winning party in a claim is also entitled to attorneys’ fees, court costs, and expert witness fees. If your employer wins the case, you may be required to pay damages to your employer, but only if your claim was frivolous.
Contact Our San Diego Sexual Harassment Lawyer for a Free Consultation
Sexual harassment is a serious matter that can leave you frightened and uncomfortable going to work and even force you to lose your job. California law takes sexual harassment very seriously and offers strong protections for victims of workplace harassment.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment at work, contact Ferraro Vega San Diego Employment Lawyers today to schedule a free case review with a San Diego sexual harassment lawyer. We are here to help you enforce your rights and hold your employer accountable.