Sexual Harassment at Work

Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power. 
                                                                                                                     Abraham Lincoln

Since the dawn of time, when one person has power over another, there is the temptation to abuse that power. The workplace is no exception. Since before electricity and since employers have had employees, sexual misconduct has occurred in the office.  Take a look at some of The Most Famous Instances of Sexual Harassment

 The Top 5 Sexual Harassment Tactics

  1. Sexual Charged Work Environment. Internet pornography and jokes. While these jokes may seem funny to some, they may create a hostile work environment for others.
  2. Unwanted Offers to Date. Bosses, supervisors or managers or even co-workers sometimes attempt to solicit social or sexual activity from subordinates or co-workers in exchange for retaining employment, promotions, or other trade-offs.  It is a fact that most sexual harassment happens between a worker and a supervisor.
  3. Social Media.  Managers or co-workers attempting to make unwanted contact via social media networks such as www.facebook.com,  www.linkedin.com, or www.twitter.com.
  4. Blackmail. Those in the workplace using your personal information they have been entrusted with to obtain sexual favors or other unjust advantage.
  5. Sexual Inquiries. Employees in the workplace making conversation or inquiring about another employee’s sexual history or identity.

Some harassment is more obvious than others, but all of it is offensive and wrong. It is important that you document each instance of harassment. The easiest way to do this is to observe what I call the “Who, what, when, where,” AND WRITE IT DOWN.

Here is how it breaks down:

  1. Who: Who is the perpetrator? Were there any witnesses?
  2. What: What prompted this sort of behavior from this other person? Example: “We were at a company birthday party and I climbed a ladder to place balloons up and a male co-worker did or said something inappropriate.”
  3. When: Dates and times are important as they place witnesses at the scene as well.
  4. Where: Did the incident occur on company property during work hours? What office, were there any doors open, security cameras taping, etc?

 

Are you being harassed in your workplace?

It’s not easy to quantify how someone made you feel, but there are many California laws to protect you as an employee and we can help you navigate them.

The laws around harassment at work are changing and in 2014 the definition has expanded under the California Labor Code to state that the harasser does not have to have sexual desire as a motive for the victim to be harassed. This means they can’t just claim they had no interest sexually and say sexual harassment, therefore, did not occur.

What are the types of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

  1. “Quid pro quo” which means “this for that” and involves a trade of some kind. In many cases, this escalates until it becomes uncomfortable. Example: Supervisor: “I will sit and compute your commissions to see if you got that bonus, if you give me a back rub, my back has been out all week.”
  2. Hostile Environment. In simple terms, the perpetrator does not have to be a supervisor or manager, but can be a co-worker and the subject matter does not have to involve sexual activity. Rather the conduct may just make the employee feel uncomfortable due to their gender or other characteristics. Examples are, sexual or racist jokes, gestures, sexually explicit posters or photos.

 

Our attorneys can help you understand the laws and how they protect you at work, but there are statutes of limitation on how long you have to address these issues so you must act quickly.

Fortunately, with advances in technology it can be easier to prove harassment at work but you must stand up and do something. Let us be your advocate! Remember the law also protects you from retaliation by your employer as long as you file a claim in good faith. Call us for a no cost consultation today.

You can read further articles on sexual harassment here:
http://www.harvardlawreview.org/search.php?searchtext=sexual+harassment
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sexual_harassment

 

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