Understanding Your Rights In Sexual Harassment Cases
If you believe that you have been a victim of sexual harassment, keep reading to learn more about how to recognize it and how our firm can help you fight back.
The Two Basic Types Of Sexual Harassment
Harassment can include many behaviors, but here are the two basic forms:
Quid pro quo harassment: Stemming from a Latin term meaning “this for that,” quid pro quo harassment involves a boss or manager offering a benefit in exchange for sexual favors. It could also involve threatening an employee with adverse actions if they do not submit to sexual favors.
Hostile work environment: Harassers create a hostile work environment for their victims and anyone else who witnesses their unwanted comments, jokes, insults, touching and leers. Other examples can include witnessing crude drawings or pornography created or accessed by a colleague. Companies can be held liable for tolerating a hostile work environment if they don’t effectively respond when employees report harassment.
Separating Myths From Reality
There is a lot of misinformation and incorrect assumptions about sexual harassment. Here are some of the most common ones:
|In order for it to be harassment, the harasser must be attracted to the victim or victims.||
Sexual harassment is not about physical attraction. It is about asserting power and dominance over someone else. Attraction may be one component, but it does not have to be.
|Sexual harassment is limited only to overtly sexual actions or comments.||
Subtle comments, insults, jokes and other “minor” offenses can constitute sexual harassment, especially if they are part of a repetitive pattern of behavior.
|In order to have a legal claim, I must be the specific target of the harassment.||
Sexual harassment affects everyone in the workplace. You may have a claim even if the harassment was aimed at someone else.
|Same-sex harassment is only harassment if one of the parties is gay.||
As mentioned above, attraction is not what primarily drives sexual harassment. Men can harass other men and women can harass other women regardless of sexual orientation.
|I cannot report sexual harassment if my harasser is a former boyfriend or girlfriend.||
Many companies have policies against colleagues dating specifically to prevent scenarios like this. However, you can and should report your harasser, even if you were previously involved in a relationship with them.
Harassment Is Not Your Fault — Know Your Employee Rights
It is common for victims to blame themselves or wonder what they did to invite harassment. But if you have been a victim of sexual harassment, know this: It was not your fault. Period.
At Teren Law Group, we believe in client empowerment. We want to help you understand your rights and fight back against those who violated them. Our attorney, Pamela Teren, has more than 25 years of experience in California employment law. Our firm has helped countless harassment victims, and we can help you, too.