Many forms of discrimination in the workplace are illegal, and one form is sexual harassment. Courts have ruled that sexual harassment is an unlawful type of discrimination since it treats someone differently based on their sex or gender. When this happens, the law gives you the right to file a complaint or to sue for what you have endured. The first step is finding San Diego employment law attorney to help you with your case.
There are many different things that could be considered illegal conduct under sexual harassment laws. Here are three different ways that your employer could break the law:
Quid pro quo - This is the classic case that many people first think about when they consider sexual harassment. It is when your employer asks or expects sexual favors or makes requests in exchange for some type of personnel action, which could even be as simple as being allowed to keep your job. The person does not have to explicitly ask. In fact, many times, the request is implicit. In quid pro quo cases, they must make an unwelcome sexual advance.
Hostile work environment - This is when there is conduct in the workplace that makes your environment:
An example of this is repeated jokes with sexual content or explicit banter. It could also encompass unwelcome sexual advances when there is no quid pro quo attached to it. In this case, courts are considering the overall environment to which you are subjected. This could include:
It is possible to have a hostile work environment case based on one instance of conduct if it was bad enough. Never draw an assumption that you were not victimized by a single isolated incident. Instead, always talk to an attorney to get their legal advice about whether you have a legal case against your employer.
If you have been subject to a hostile work environment, the company may try to argue that they took reasonable steps to prevent it and tried to take corrective measures to stop it.
Retaliation - Once you complain about sexual harassment, you are entitled to protections after that. Your employer cannot do anything to punish you for filing a complaint. In reality, many of them try to do this. Retaliation is actually a very common ground for a lawsuit because employers do not like it when their employees come forward. You could have a case for retaliation even if you are not able to prove that you were the victim of a quid pro quo or hostile work environment. Retaliation itself is sexual harassment.
Even though it is an employee who is harassing you, it is the employer that can be made to pay. This is true even if it is a coworker in the next cubicle who repeatedly makes sexual jokes. The company cannot say that the pattern of conduct is independent of your job because it is part of your experience.
It is a basic concept of law that an employer is responsible for the actions of an employee on the job. The employee is their agent. Even if a coworker or boss was acting completely inappropriate beyond the bounds of all decency, it is as if the employer is doing it to you. It is always better to sue the employer because they are generally the one with the deeper pockets.
Most people think of their immediate supervisor as the person most likely to engage in sexual harassment. While that is often true, it is not always the case. Anyone can commit sexual harassment at work. Oftentimes, the improper conduct can be coming from coworkers who bring a locker room atmosphere into the workplace. You do not even have to be harassed by an employee of your company. You could even have a lawsuit if you are sent on a sales call and a client harasses you.
In addition, sexual harassers are not always men. While sexual harassment disproportionately impacts women, there are cases where a woman can harass a man. The law is written to prohibit discrimination based on gender. There are some cases where men have been victims.
One of the biggest issues in the workplace is the harassment of LGBT employees. This is a hidden epidemic, as the majority of LGBT workers say that they have been a victim of sexual harassment. This can also be grounds for a lawsuit.
Here are the steps that you would need to follow in order to file a sexual harassment case:
Find a San Diego sexual harassment lawyer to represent you - A sexual harassment case is never easy. The employer may pull out all of the stops to make it difficult for you. On top of that, these cases are all about the facts. You need an experienced lawyer who can tell your story and know what evidence you need to prove your case. Beyond needing a lawyer for litigation, you need legal counsel as you deal with a very difficult situation at work.
File an administrative complaint - Before you can file a lawsuit, you must go through the administrative process. This might involve the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at the federal level or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) at the state level.
The agency will investigate your claim on its own and try to get an idea of what happened. There are two possibilities. If the agency believes that you were discriminated against, they could file a lawsuit on your behalf. If they cannot reach that conclusion, they will send you a Right to Sue letter that advises you that you can file a private lawsuit under the law. Your lawyer can determine whether to request that they send you the Right to Sue letter since you would not have to wait for the agency to take action.
File a lawsuit - If you file a claim on your own, your lawsuit is like any other civil case. You are trying to carry your burden of proof to show that you were sexually harassed. Like any court case, there will be a discovery process before you proceed to a trial. You will ultimately have a hearing in front of a judge or jury who will decide whether the defendant violated the law.
Defendants are very calculating when it comes to sexual harassment lawsuits. They do not want to be the company that ends up on the receiving end of a multimillion-dollar jury verdict. If their employee did what you allege and the conduct seems really bad, your company may try to settle the case because they do not want to be anywhere near a jury.
Damning sexual harassment lawsuits are bad for a company in many ways. Not only could they cost a business a lot of money, but they will also bring bad publicity. Many of these cases have alleged facts that could make most people cringe.
You need a lawyer to negotiate a sexual harassment settlement. Like any defendant, your company may try to lowball you with a settlement offer to make the case go away and see what you will accept. Your lawyer will know how much your case is worth and will advise you on what is a fair settlement offer.
Like any lawsuit, the defendant will need to pay you a dollar value that reflects what you have gone through and lost because of their conduct. Here are some of what you could receive in a sexual harassment lawsuit:
The court could also order reinstatement if you were fired as part of the harassment. If you were denied a promotion because of the employer’s wrongful acts, the court could order the promotion.
While we may have an idea of what your case is worth, it would all depend on what you went through and whether your employer is willing to settle for a fair amount. If your case goes to trial, different juries could see the same case in entirely different ways, which is why you need a skilled San Diego sexual harassment lawyer on your side.
Below are the answers to some questions that we are frequently asked about sexual harassment cases. For more specific questions, contact us directly.
This is the classic “your word against theirs” situation. The good news is that you may be able to prove your side of the story if circumstantial evidence favors you. For example, if you were fired, demoted, or denied a promotion right around the time that you said the harassment occurred, this could help your case. Remember that you do not need to prove what happened beyond a shadow of a doubt. That is the standard of proof for a criminal case. In your lawsuit, you would need to show that it is more likely than not that the sexual harassment happened.
You are required to file a complaint with some government agency before you are able to bring a lawsuit in court. This is called exhaustion of your administrative remedies. It does not necessarily have to be the federal government. California has a state agency that could also investigate your claim called the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. There is also a state sexual harassment law that could lead to California trying to collect damages on your behalf.
Some victims may hesitate to hire an attorney for their case because they think that they cannot afford one. Do not let those worries stop you. We work for you on a contingency basis. If you are not successful with your lawsuit, you do not need to pay us. Our lawyers are paid a percentage of any recovery you may receive. Do not be scared away by your thought that you would need to write a retainer check upfront. You do not have to when you hire a sexual harassment lawyer.
As uncomfortable as it may be, this is a discussion that is probably worth having if it is safe to do so. First, the harasser may not know how their conduct is affecting you. They may not even think that it is wrong. Talking to them puts them on notice that you feel that they are crossing a line. To be clear, though, while you should notify someone that you consider their behavior harassment, it is not on you to put a stop to the behavior. It is on the harasser to stop behaving this way.
You should then go through your company’s reporting procedures. Making a report gives you some legal protection since the company is not allowed to retaliate against you. This is difficult but often necessary for you to do, not only to stop the harassment but to document your case.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, you need a commonsense lawyer who can help you fight for justice. The San Diego sexual harassment attorneys at the Eghbali Law Firm are strong lawyers who will give voice to your story. We work only for employees and know how to take the fight to companies. Call us today at (619) 550-2860 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation. We will let you know whether you have a legal case against your employer.