Siegal & RichardsonLLP

San Francisco Attorneys Serving All Of California

Important points about sexual harassment at work

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that all employers must address immediately. It isn't enough for them to have a reactive policy. They should also have a proactive policy aimed at preventing it from happening in the first place.

For workers who are sexually harassed, dealing with the issue can often seem like an uphill battle that isn't at all pleasant. These individuals should understand that they have specific rights that cannot be violated.

Victims and harassers vary

It is easy to assume that women are always the victims of sexual harassment and that men are always the harassers. This is not the case. Anyone can fall into either role, so nobody should ever focus their claims of sexual harassment on these generalities. Instead, all claims must be based on individual circumstances.

It is also possible for a person who isn't the target of the harassment to file a sexual harassment claim. Anyone who witnesses the harassment can file a complaint. If that person was offended by the situation, they might be an indirect victim.

Another common misconception is that the person who is sexually harassing someone is that person's supervisor. Co-workers, clients and vendors can be the victim or the aggressor in these situations, too.

Laws vary

It isn't illegal to tease workers or make offhand comments; however, there are limits to what is acceptable in the workplace. One of the markers that must be considered is how the actions are impacting the workplace. Sexual harassment occurs when the actions make the environment hostile.

Another legal matter that employees should know is that employers can't retaliate against you because you file a complaint about sexual harassment. This means that you shouldn't have to worry about being demoted, terminated, or having to deal with unfavorable employment actions as a result of your complaint.

Filing a complaint

In most cases, your first action to stop sexual harassment is to file a complaint with the employer. There should be a clear process for this to happen, so make sure you follow it exactly. Some cases might need to be handled outside of the company. In these cases, you will file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It is also possible that there will need to be a lawsuit filed. These both have time limits, so be sure to act quickly. You also have to ensure that you are protecting your rights in California.

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