Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates state and federal law. In the workplace, sexual harassment can take three forms: quid pro quo, hostile work environment and sexual favoritism harassment.
Quid pro quo cases are classified when a supervisor requests sexual favors in return for some tangible job benefit, such as a promotion, or threatens a tangible job loss, such as termination, if the employee does not capitulate to the sexual advances.
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Hostile environment cases involve severe and pervasive sexual work environments, including offensive physical touching, vulgar language, pornographic displays, sexual conduct in the workplace, etc. either by managers or co-workers. Hostile environment sexual harassment often affects large groups of employees. Even employees who are not themselves targeted for sexual touching or advances can assert hostile work environment claims based on their being forced to work in an environment that, as a whole, is offensive to them and to others.
Sexual favoritism is a form of sexual harassment and discrimination that is illegal in California. It occurs when a manager or supervisor is in a sexual relationship with another employee and the manager/supervisor shows favoritism toward that employee such as by promoting them ahead of other, more qualified, candidates. This sends a signal that the way to advance is by having sex with the boss.
If you have missed out on advancement or another benefit because it went to someone who was having a sexual relationship with the boss, while you were more qualified, better educated, or more experienced, you may have a claim for sexual favoritism.
Sexual harassment in any State is unwelcome conduct that can occur in a variety of circumstances, the harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another department, a co-worker, a non-employee or a client. The victim does not have to be the opposite sex and the victim does not have to be the person harassed but simply one person or one of multiple persons affected by the offensive conduct.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment or a hostile work environment, particularly where there are multiple victims and/or witnesses and your complaints to the company have fallen on deaf ears, you may have a pattern or practice hostile work environment claim.
Previously, only someone who was a direct victim of sexual harassment could sue. However, the California Supreme Court recently decided that when sexual favoritism is frequent and obvious it may create a "hostile workplace" and be grounds for a lawsuit.
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If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, please click the link below to send your complaint to an attorney who will review your claim at no cost or obligation.
Last updated on Jun-21-11
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