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Unfortunately, sexual harassment remains a severe issue in many San Diego workplaces. Even with strict laws in place to protect an employee from sexual harassment coupled with substantial jury verdicts against employers who violate those laws, sexual harassment persists. Many times our clients feel like they have no ability to do anything to stop the sexual harassment because they are afraid that they will be terminated if they complain. In some cases, an employee is being harassed by the business owner or a manager who makes salary and termination decisions, so standing up to the harasser feels extremely complicated. The fear of losing a paycheck, getting demoted, or being terminated can paralyze a person’s ability to stop the harassment or to complain to management.
Rist Law Office is here to help the victims of sexual harassment.
How Does California Define Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or acts, or any other verbal or physical conduct that is sexual in nature. The conduct has to affect an individual’s employment, unreasonably interfere with their performance, or create a hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment. The following are examples of sexual harassment in a workplace:
- sexual jokes
- unwelcome sexual advances
- same sex sexual jokes
- transgender sexual jokes
- requests for sexual favors or acts in return for pay (sometimes called quid pro quo)
- requests for sexual favors
- unwanted touching
- sexually suggestive speech or actions
- showing sexual material, including on computers, phones, tablets, etc.
- verbal harassment that is sexual
- any other physical touching that is sexual or could be considered sexual
Sexual harassment not only happens in person. Many cases involve text messages, Facebook posts, Facebook messages, Instagram posts or messages, and even voicemail or email. One key factor in dealing with a sexual harassment case is that the sexual harassment must be unwelcome.
Is There Such a Thing as Same Sex Sexual Harassment?
Absolutely. The person who is harassing and the victim can be the same sex or the opposite sex.
Does Sexual Harassment Include Sex or Orientation Jokes or Remarks?
Yes. Sexual harassment includes offensive remarks about sexual orientation or gender. If a man makes offensive comments about women in general, it can be considered sexual harassment. On the flip side, if a female makes comments about men in general, it can be considered sexual harassment.
Is There a Quantity Of Harassment That has to Occur Before Pursuing a Case?
The harassment does have to be severe or frequent in nature enough that it creates a hostile work environment. A single incident or comment sometimes is not enough. Multiple comments and actions are typically required to show the hostile work environment.
What if I’m Harassed by Customers?
A sexual harassment complaint can be made against a non-employee such as a customer.
What if I Get Terminated for Filing a Sexual Harassment Claim?
California law protects an employee who complains about sexual harassment from being retaliated against. This means termination, demotion, or other adverse actions taken against someone who either complains about the harassment or turns down the sexual requests is protected under the law and can lead to an additional claim being made for wrongful termination.
What is the Statute of Limitations for a San Diego Sexual Harassment Case to Be Filed?
California formerly had a one year statute of limitations under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act to file a claim. Under FEHA, an aggrieved employee had one year to file a charge with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. Once a right to sue letter was issued, an employee had an additional year to file an action in Court.
Recently, AB 9 went into effect in California, which now provides three years to file a FEHA complaint with the DFEH in order to get a right to sue letter. AB 9 does not provide an additional year after that complaint is filed to get a right to sue letter. Essentially, this makes the statute of limitations for most sexual harassment claims three years total under California law.
The bill does not apply to lapsed claims, meaning if the statute of limitations already ran, then the case cannot now be filed.
Getting Help With a San Diego Sexual Harassment Case
Rist Law Offices handles sexual harassment cases throughout San Diego and southern California. We will work to recover all damages for our clients, including past and future medical bills, past lost wages, future lost wages, and damages for emotional distress and mental anguish. If the harassment is severe enough, we will also fight to recover punitive damages for our clients.
There is never a fee to speak to a potential client about a case. All consultations will be kept strictly confidential. We handle all San Diego sexual harassment cases on a contingency fee basis, which means we are only paid if your case is won at trial or settled.
For more information or to set up a free consultation with a San Diego Sexual Harassment Lawyer, call us today at (619) 377-4660.
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