Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Attorney
Sexual harassment remains a serious area of concern for employees everywhere. Due to the rise of the recent #MeToo movement, more people are speaking out now more than ever and harassers are paying the price. Sexual harassment lawsuits have resulted in record settlements and monetary awards to employees who fall victim to such conduct. This is especially true because employers are the ones who are usually held liable for the harassing acts that its supervisors and employees commit.
How Do I Know If I am Being Sexually Harassed?
Sexual harassment can include such conduct as asking for sexual favors, sexual touching, or offensive language. However, not all sexual conduct in the workplace is illegal “sexual harassment.” Generally, the conduct must be so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or results in an adverse employment decision (such as firing or demotion).
Although the line between legal and illegal conduct is often very obvious, that is not always the case. Many unique situations may arise in which an employee is not sure whether he or she has a sexual harassment lawsuit or not. Examples of some questions you may ask include:
- Can a man sue for sexual harassment?
- Can I sue for sexual harassment if my harasser and I are the same sex?
- Can I sue for sexual harassment if I was not touched?
- Does staring count as sexual harassment?
- Does sniffing count as sexual harassment?
- Do offensive words count as sexual harassment?
- Can hugs at work count as sexual harassment?
- Does sexual harassment have to be sexual in nature?
- Can I sue my boss for sexual harassment by my co-worker?
- Can my boss demote me for refusing to have sex with him?
If you were sexually harassed at work, you are likely entitled to compensation. Miracle Mile Law Group is here to ensure that you get the maximum amount of damages for your sexual harassment lawsuit. We are here to guide you through any questions you may have and to guide you through the legal process.
How Do I Prove That I Was Sexually Harassed?
Whether you were sexually harassed by a supervisor, a co-worker or another person, you will likely need to have some kind of evidence to prove it. If you feel you are being or have been sexually harassed, consider the following:
- Create a detailed written record with anything that may suggest sexual harassment, such as comments or conduct by your boss;
- Gather up all your performance and personnel records;
- Write down and record every time you are subjected to unwanted touching or comments, or anything else you suspect might seem like sexual harassment;
- Keep records of all your e-mails, texts and other communications between you and your bosses or any other colleagues.
If you are unable to acquire this proof, do not be alarmed. There are other ways to prove sexual harassment, such as testimony from co-workers or other witnesses. If you fall into this category, make sure to contact Miracle Mile Law Group as soon as possible so we can figure out how to prove your case!
What Are The Different Types Of Sexual Harassment?
Courts and government enforcement agencies divide sexual harassment into two broad categories: (1) quid pro quo sexual harassment and (2) hostile work environment sexual harassment.
Type #1: Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment
Quid pro quo literally means “this for that” in Latin. This type of harassment typically occurs when a person who has the power to influence an employment decision or condition seeks a sexual favor in return for a positive employment outcome.
Quid pro quo harassment occurs, for example, when a supervisor demands that an employee consent to some form of sexual encounter to receive a promotion, a raise, or to continue employment. It can involve either explicit or implicit conditioning of a job or promotion on the sexual encounter.
Type #2: Hostile Work Environment Harassment
Hostile work environment harassment is usually more subtle and difficult to recognize than quid pro quo sexual harassment. Hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome sexual jokes, suggestive remarks, cartoons, physical interference with movement (such as blocking a person or following a person), sexually derogatory comments or other conduct based on sex unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment. While repeated instances of such conduct can be sufficient to show that the sexual harassment has occurred, even one instance of this conduct may be enough to show that a person is in a hostile work environment if it is pervasive enough.
However, the conduct must be “severe or pervasive” such that it alters the victim’s employment and creates an abusive working environment. Whether the conduct is “severe or pervasive” will come down to the conduct’s nature, frequency, severity, context and several other factors.
What is NOT Sexual Harassment?
Remember in order for a plaintiff to bring a sexual harassment claim, the harassment must be severe and pervasive from the perspective of a reasonable person with the same fundamental characteristics of the plaintiff.
Some examples of what may not be considered sexual harassment include:
- Wearing clothes that may be offensive to a particular ethnic group
- A one-off friendly gesture about a person’s look
- An isolated remark
- Sexual flirtation or innuendo
- Vulgar language that is trivial or merely annoying
What Laws Protect Employees Against Sexual Harassment?
Both Federal and State law protects employees from sexual harassment.
Federal Law: Under Federal law, sexual harassment is prohibited by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal prohibitions against sexual harassment.
State Law: In California, harassment laws are part of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) enforces FEHA.
Questions You Are Probably Asking Yourself About Your Sexual Harassment Case:
- Can my boss fire me for reporting instances of sexual harassment?
- Can my assign me to a different position because I reported sexual harassment?
- Can my employer lower my salary because I reported sexual harassment?
- Can I file a discrimination lawsuit against my employer because he sexually harassed me?
- How much is my sexual harassment lawsuit worth?
- Can my employer demote me because I filed a sexual harassment claim against my boss?
If you are asking yourself any of these questions, talk to a sexual harassment lawyer now. Call us at (213) 433-3588 to talk to trained attorney now.
Examples of Previous Sexual Harassment Cases
- $168,000,000: A California physician would routinely greet his assistant every morning with the words, “I’m horny,” to which the assistant would repeatedly reject his advances. In fact she filed multiple complaints to human resources to no avail. The jury in this case eventually awarded the physician $168,000,000 in damages. See Ani Chopourian v. Catholic Healthcare West.
- $11,500,000: A New York Knicks executive was repeatedly harassed by former star guard, Isaiah Thomas, who was also president of basketball operations at the time. He would routinely call her "bitch" and "ho" to her face, and later made a "thinly veiled solicitation for sex." The case settled for an estimated $11,500,000. See Anucha Browne Sanders v. Madison Square Garden et al.
- $2,600,000: In 2008 an employee was harassed by his fellow colleague. The harassment included showing the co-worker pornographic images, spreading false rumors that the co-worker was gay and that he engaged in sex with male prostitutes; he even went as far as pinching the co-worker’s nipples and brushing his hand against his butt. The harassment went on for years and while supervisors knew of the harassment they did nothing. In fact they told the victim of the harassment to “suck it up and deal with it.” The jury awarded the victim in this case $2,600,000. See Hudson v. Beverly Fabrics.
- $40,000: A female boss offered a position to a male employee and they eventually developed a romantic relationship. The male employee testified that his boss’ pursuit included rubbing on his body while the two were in her office, as well as performing oral sex on him. He testified that he felt badly about the relationship and felt he would be fired if he complained to human resources about her advances. Sure enough, soon after that, he was fired by his female boss for rejecting her advances. He was awarded $40,000 by a jury. See Lashley v. Flynn.
- $13,400,000: A plaintiff who worked for a sugarcane processing firm for almost 30 years was subjected to numerous lewd comments and other harassing behavior by her boss. For example, her boss would make unwanted statements about her boobs and butt; he went as far commenting about, “What he would do to her if she wasn’t so old.” The jury in this cased sympathized with the woman’s ordeal and awarded her $13,400,000. See Mayo-Coleman v. American Sugars Holding, Inc.
- $550,000: GEO, a correctional facility company, was sued by a class of 16 employees for charges including harassment and sexual assault. For example, a male manager grabbed and pinched the breasts and crotch of a female employee. Another male employee forced a female employee onto a desk, shoving her legs apart, and kissing her. Further, a wide variety of verbal harassment was also rampant, including male officers asking female officers for sex, a male officer calling a female officer "bitch" and "f---ing bitch" daily, and supervisors and officers making sexually explicit comments to female officers. Other comments included offensive remarks such as "All I want to see of you is the top of your head bobbing up and down while you are on your knees," and a supervisor frequently saying that women should be barefoot and pregnant. GEICO eventually settled the case for $550,000. See EEOC v. GEO Group Inc.
- $850,000: Six female janitors at Calidad Industries Inc. (a Goodwill subsidiary), most of which had severe developmental disabilities, were subjected to sexual harassment at the hands of their supervisors. In the words of one of the employees, “I was only 19 years old when I worked at Calidad -- it was my first job, and I enjoyed being able to earn my own money," said former employee Crystal Edwards. "But after my boss put his arms around me, I did not feel safe at work. My complaints were ignored.” The case eventually settled for $850,000. See EEOC v. Goodwill Industries of the Greater East Bay, Inc. and Calidad Industries, Inc.
- $3,500,000: Alorica, Inc., a software company, failed to remedy a rampant culture of sexual harassment, including a hostile work environment. Despite repeated complaints by the employees to the human resources, Alorica did absolutely nothing, letting the disgusting culture blossom. This case settled for $3,500,000. See EEOC v. Alorica Inc.
- In another example of same-sex sexual harassment, an employee was repeatedly and inappropriately touched by his heterosexual male co-workers. In one instance, he had a bar of soap placed in between his buttocks. This case was crucial as it went all the way to the United States Supreme Court where the Court held that nothing in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act bars suits based on same-sex harassment. See Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services.