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Redondo Beach California Employment Law Blog

How much more often does sexual harassment target women?

If you look at the news, it becomes clear fairly quickly that women most often face sexual harassment in the workplace and elsewhere. It can and does happen to men -- and this is not to detract from that fact in any way -- but it's not as common.

What does the divide look like? In one study, just 16.1% of men reported sexual harassment. The rest were women. Another data set put it at 17.6%. Another report put it at about 17%, or almost one out of every five complaints -- technically, a true one-in-five ratio would be 20%.

What does the term quid pro quo mean?

When you hear about sexual harassment in the workplace, you often hear the term "quid pro quo." It's very important, but what exactly is meant by this phrase?

Essentially, it just means "something given or received for something else." It is a Latin phrase, and it does not by any means have to relate only to sexual harassment. It just refers to the act of bartering one thing for another.

A diary of events may help with discrimination cases

If you experience gender discrimination -- or discrimination of any other kind -- in the workplace, you need to know that this practice is illegal. It does violate your rights. Do not assume that you must put up with it and accept it as part of the workplace environment.

But how do you take steps to end it? If you're considering a legal case against your employer, what do you need to do to show that the discrimination really happened?

What actions may constitute sexual harassment?

No concise definition of sexual harassment encompasses everything that it can be, as a wide variety of actions fall under this umbrella term. No two cases are exactly alike. Different actions can play a role or be interpreted differently depending on those involved.

For instance, in one case, a co-worker may ask another worker out repeatedly, despite getting turned down. While that first invitation for a romantic relationship may have been fine and within bounds, the repetition and consistency could make the second worker feel uncomfortable, as if they are getting harassed every time they go to work.

The impact of discrimination on your health

You know all about the impact of gender discrimination on your career. It has been holding you back. You feel like your superiors have passed you over for promotions based on your gender. You know it's why you haven't gotten jobs -- or even interviews -- with other companies. Maybe you also have serious questions about your pay and benefits.

But did you know that facing discrimination can even have a massive impact on your physical health? It leads to greater stress levels and a general state of poor health. In some studies, those facing more discrimination often dealt with chronic issues like:

  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Depression

Reasons people neglect to report harassment

Sexual harassment is very common in the workplace. Some studies have said that it happens to 30% of women; it can also happen to men.

Despite how common it is, the issue often flies under the radar. One reason for this is that people just do not report it when it happens. When they know it's wrong, why would they neglect to file a report?

Start with 5 questions if you think you've been wrongfully fired

Did you recently lose your job, and do you think you were wrongfully terminated? Your first reaction is likely frustration or anger -- or both. Losing a job is hard enough on its own. Losing it unfairly just makes it worse.

Don't despair; there are steps you can take if it really is a wrongful termination. You do have rights. To get started, try asking yourself these five questions:

  1. What happened before the termination? For instance, if your boss made sexual advances, you rejected them and then you got fired, that's a problematic chain of events.
  2. Do you have any specific evidence? You want to know if this is more than a gut feeling. Maybe you have text messages showing the inappropriate comments or a direct statement from your boss, for instance.
  3. Are there any witnesses? Maybe your boss made their interest in you clear or even made jokes about it to other employees. Maybe you showed co-workers inappropriate text messages or email messages.
  4. Were you the only one? Unfortunately, in many cases like this, multiple people experience the same treatment. While no one deserves it, a pattern of behavior can support your case.
  5. Did you work in a hostile workplace before the termination? If you were subjected to repeated instances of discrimination, abuse, harassment and the like, that can create a hostile workplace. This is evidence of how you were treated and why you may have been fired.

Technology jobs see high rates of gender discrimination

If you work in a STEM job (science, technology, engineering and math), odds are good that you have seen discrimination at work. Maybe it's happened to you. Maybe it's happened to a co-worker while you were around. Unfortunately, it is very common, especially gender discrimination and sexual discrimination.

In fact, some reports claim that about 50% of women working in these professions have experienced some form of gender discrimination. It does happen to men as well, but only about 19% of them reported it. This clearly shows that there is a substantial gap in the way that men and women experience discrimination and the type of treatment that they get at work.

Are things different after the #metoo movement?

The Me Too movement (#metoo) certainly brought a lot of attention to sexual harassment, especially in the workplace. Things that were going on behind the scenes suddenly came to light. People took a stand when they hadn't before. We saw people who had committed these harassing acts retire, apologize, get fired, quit and suffer from all sorts of other ramifications.

But now, in 2019, we're roughly two years past the start of the movement. Did it change anything dramatically? Is life for the American worker different now?

Workers should be careful when telling jokes

Telling jokes in the workplace is not inherently a bad thing. It can help you bond with other employees. It can relieve stress and tension. It can help people get to know one another. If you're a new employee, it can allow you to make a statement and show your unique personality.

All that being said, there is a risk here. Some jokes are fairly offensive. Not everyone has the same exact standards regarding what is or is not offensive. Workers need to be very careful. Someone may think that a specific joke is not offensive, but you may find it hurtful or insulting. In some cases, repeated joking can even create a hostile environment and constitute workplace harassment, especially if the worker who is offended asks for the behavior to stop.

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It can be hard to take the first steps in these cases when your livelihood is at stake, but know that you have rights available to you. Let us help you determine what you can do to bring an end to your employer's unlawful behavior.