Home Page Potential Lawsuit California Sexual Harassment and Discrimination
California Sexual Harassment and Discrimination
If you have been sexually harassed or treated unfavorably in the workplace - either as an applicant or an employee - because of your gender or sexual orientation, you may have a sex discrimination claim. Or you may have a sexual harassment claim, which is a form of sexual discrimination. The California labor law forbids sex and gender discrimination when it comes to all terms and conditions of employment, from hiring and firing to equal pay and promotions.
Sex and gender discrimination is still prevalent in the workplace, even though the State of California and federal laws mandate that all employees, including openly gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender individuals, are given equal access and protections. In 2010, almost 70 percent of women believed that sex discrimination exists in the workplace.
California Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Laws
The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 states clearly states it is unlawful to treat you unfairly because of your: sex; marital status; family responsibilities; because you are pregnant or might become pregnant; or because you are breastfeeding. This act also makes Sexual Harassment illegal.
The Sex Discrimination Act includes situations where you have been sexually harassed at work or if you believe you have been:
given less favourable terms or conditions of employment
denied a promotion, transfer or other employment-related benefits
denied equal access to training opportunities.
Pregnancy discrimination is a form of sex discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that, "discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions constitutes unlawful sex discrimination." An employer is in violation of the California labor law if they refuse to hire someone on the basis of pregnancy or a pregnancy-related condition, or based on prejudices of coworkers. Despite the law, 5,797 charges in 2011 were brought to the EEOC for pregnancy discrimination.
California Pregnancy Discrimination
The federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) mandate 12 weeks of unpaid medical leave for employees of many companies following the births of children. Some companies either fail to provide this time off or they find ways to discriminate against new mothers upon their return to work.
Pregnancy discrimination is a serious violation of the California labor code. Businesses and its supervisors – including hospitals-- should be aware of this bill and if they haven't done so already, should implement a breast-feeding policy. As well, employers should take seriously any complaints from employees relating to breast-feeding as they are as serious as any other complaint that is based on sex, race or age discrimination.
The California Legislature, as of 2013 expanded the definition of "sex"under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which prohibits discrimination in employment. Under existing law, "sex"includes gender, pregnancy, childbirth, and medical conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth. Assembly Bill 2386 adds breastfeeding and related medical conditions to the FEHA' definition of "sex."Employers also will be required to provide employees with an update to their Discrimination and Harassment Notice. Direct Breastfeeding discrimination occurs when a woman is treated less favorably because she is breastfeeding or needs to breastfeed over a period of time. For instance, if a restaurant refused to serve a woman because she is breastfeeding, that would constitute direct discrimination.
Indirect Breastfeeding discrimination happens when there is a requirement or practice that is the same for everyone but disadvantages women who are breastfeeding. Say an employer doesn't allow workers to take their two, 10-minute breaks as stipulated by the California labor code. This action may disadvantage women who are breastfeeding as they may need to take breaks to express milk.
When a person is treated less favorably than another person because they have family responsibilities, Family Responsibilities Discrimination occurs. Under the Sex Discrimination Act, family responsibilities include responsibilities to care for or support a member of your immediate family or a dependent child. For instance, if an employer refuses to employ an applicant, demote a worker or reduce their hours of work because the must care for a family member, that may constitute family responsibility discrimination.
Family Responsibilities Discrimination
Sexual Harassment Sexual harassment continues to be a serious issue in California workplaces. Sexual harassment is illegal when there is a business, service, or professional relationship between the harasser and the victim. Sexual harassment is defined by The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) as "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature such that submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual' employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual' work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment".
To charge someone with sexual harassment, the victim must request the harasser to stop the behavior. If the harasser refuses to stop such behavior, a harassment attorney can help determine proper action to take. The victim must be able to show that the relationship cannot be terminated without some form of hardship. In other words, the victim cannot simply walk away without any consequences.
Sexual Discrimination lawsuits do not necessarily just involve employers. Anyone can potentially be the victim of sexual harassment – they don't necessarily have to be harassed by someone of the opposite sex. The harasser can be a supervisor, a client, a co-worker or even a non-employee. Further, the victim does not directly have to be the person who was harassed – they could be someone else affected by the offensive behavior.
Sexual Discrimination Lawsuits
Some examples of sexual harassment would include a doctor who touches your breast during an eye examination, or when a teacher sexually harasses a student. People in the following professions have been sued for sexual harassment:
accountant bankers, trust officer, financial planners and loan officers collection services
doctors, dentists, psychiatrists
marriage, family or child counselors, licensed clinical social workers
real estate agents and real estate appraisers
contractors, escrow loan officers, executors, trustees, or administrator beneficiaries,
landlords and property managers,
Sexual harassment complaints actually reported may be the tip of the iceberg: Most victims of sexual harassment do not report the harasser, typically because they are afraid of losing their jobs.
The FEHA lists some types of sexual harassment:
Unwanted sexual advances
Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors
Actual or threatened retaliation
Leering; making sexual gestures; or displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters
Making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, or jokes
Sexual comments including graphic comments about an individual' body; sexually degrading words used to describe an individual; or suggestive or obscene letters, notes, or invitations
Physical touching or assault, as well as impeding or blocking movements
Having sex with the boss can be interpreted as Sexual Favoritism. If an employer or supervisor and employee are engaged in a sexual relationship and the employer shows favoritism toward the employee, such as promoting them over a more qualified and senior candidate, sexual favoritism is a form of sexual harassment and discrimination that is illegal in California.
If you were more qualified and have been passed over for a promotion or other benefit due to this type of sexual harassment, you may have a sexual favoritism claim.
The law recognizes two types of sexual harassment:
Caifornia Sexual Harassment Law
Quid pro quo harassment: When sexual favors are demanded by a supervisor or manager as a condition of employment, such as a promotion.
Hostile work environment: When an employer knowingly allows a hostile, offensive, oppressive or intimidating work environment based on sex to continue, and which adversely affects an employee's ability to work.
The vast majority of sexual harassment victims are women, but men can suffer the effects of these behaviors too. This type of harassment usually involves a group of employees.
First, contact your HR department or supervisor and make a formal complaint. Keep a journal or record of every incident – include time and place and wherever possible get the names of witnesses. If your employer fails to take action and the harassment continues, you should consider contacting a sexual discrimination attorney.
What You Can Do if You're Being Sexually Harassed
There are steps you can do to prevent sexual harassment. Ask that your employer has the following:
a workplace policy on sexual harassment
a process for dealing with complaints
a training program so that employees can identify and deal with sexual harassment.
Sex and gender discrimination are not the same thing. A person's sex refers to whether they are genetically male or female whereas gender means which sex someone more closely identifies.
California Gender Discrimination
An individual may be discriminated at work because of his or her sex, such as denying a job to someone because she is female. Or, someone may be discriminated against because he is genetically male, but identifies more as a female. California labor law protects against situations like these. For example, women are marginalized when they seek to rise up the corporate ladder into positions traditionally filled by men. Conversely men can also suffer the effects of gender discrimination. All behaviors described above are violations of California labor and federal law.
2004: Sexual discrimination lawsuit against John Muir Health brought by eight women settled for $340K .
Sexual Discrimination California Lawsuits
2008: Sex discrimination lawsuit against California State University brought by former coach of the women's basketball team settled for $9 million .
March 2011: Gender discrimination class action lawsuit against Wells Fargo settled for $32 million.
February 2012: Sexual harassment lawsuit and hostile environment lawsuit against doctors and medical staff at a Sacramento hospital brought by a former cardiac surgery physician settled for $168 million.
September 2012: Sexual harassment lawsuit against residential property owner brought by women tenants settled for more than $2 million.
California Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Legal HelpIf you or a loved one has suffered similar damages or injuries, please click the link below and your complaint will be sent to an employment lawyer who may evaluate your claim at no cost or obligation.
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