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In workplaces across Los Angeles, what appears to be friendly or interesting banter and innocent gestures may actually be sexual harassment. This type of discrimination was outlawed by the Civil Rights Act of 1964. To better understand if you are being sexually harassed, you must know what it is.
Types of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment can be devastating and can alter the work environment. There are two types of harassment in California: “quid pro quo” and “hostile work environment”. In quid pro quo sexual harassment, the victim is generally required to engage in sexual conduct with the harasser in exchange for some employment benefit, such as a promotion.
In hostile work environment cases, offensive sexual harassment does not have to include any conditions of employment. It can be any sexually offensive action that is “severe” or “pervasive”, is offensive to the victim, and would be offensive to a reasonable person under similar circumstances.
Dealing with sexual harassment
Some employees avoid reporting sexual harassment because they fear that their employer or harasser will retaliate. California and Federal law prohibits retaliation against employees who report sexual harassment to their employer or to an outside agency, such as the Department of Fair Employment and Housing or EEOC. Some employers have policies and procedures in place to allow employees to inform human resources of the situation with documentation, states US News & World Report.
In fact, employers can argue that if an employee fails to use their complaint procedure to make a complaint of sexual harassment, that any resulting damages from the sexual harassment could be limited. This is known as “the avoidable consequences doctrine”.
If you believe you have been a victim of sexual harassment at the workplace, you should consult with an experienced employment law attorney to protect yourself. Sexual harassment claims, like most legal claims, have a statute of limitations and therefore waiting to take action can have negative consequences for the victim of sexual harassment.