The right to work free from harassment or discrimination based on sex or gender is a civil right in California. Sexual harassment comes in many forms and includes unwanted and unwelcome visual, verbal or physical conduct that is of a sexual nature or sex-based including requests for sexual favors. Employees, independent contractors and even job applicants are protected. Both the company and the harasser are liable to the victim of harassment, although, different rules apply depending on whether the harasser is a co-worker or a supervisor. Companies are strictly liable for harassment by supervisors and managers.
It is important to promptly report all cases of sexual harassment, although there are valid reasons that people fail to report it, such as shame, embarrassment and guilt, as well as the fear of losing one’s job. It may even help in some cases to at least report the harassment to another co-worker. Also, tell the harasser that the conduct is unwanted, offensive and to stop and not repeat it.
Consulting an attorney to help navigate the process is often a good idea in serious harassment cases.
Victims of workplace harassment can recover a broad array of damages. These include past and future lost pay and benefits, damages for emotional distress and suffering, punitive damages and attorney’s fees. Past and future medical bills and some other out-of-pocket costs are recoverable. Most attorneys will handle these types of cases on a contingency basis and advance all costs. This allows employees with limited resources to hire a law firm to take on the largest employers in the country.