While it is discussed more frequently now than in the past, employees who experience sexual harassment in the workplace may not be aware of the steps they can take to address it. Sexual harassment includes unwanted sexual advances, actions that create an intimidating or hostile workplace environment and verbal conduct of a sexual nature.
This type of conduct is prohibited by both California and federal law. In California, it also extends to harassment based on gender identity, sexual orientation and pregnancy. Employers and managers can be held liable in sexual harassment lawsuits.
Important steps employees can take
Employees should first review their employer’s sexual harassment policy and inform their employer of the harassment in the manner required. It is important to keep a written record of the harassment, including the date and time the incidents occurred.
If the employee can’t resolve the concern by following the employer’s policy, there is an option to file a complaint with a state or federal agency. Employees can file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the Federal Equal Opportunity Commission. Information about filing a complaint is available on each agency’s website.
In some cases, if employees fail to follow these steps it can prevent them from pursuing compensation. An experienced attorney can provide guidance at any point during the process, from filing initial reports to a sexual harassment lawsuit, if necessary.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can be intimidating for employees who are the victims of this unwanted behavior. Employees should know that they are empowered to take these important first steps and that they have options to address sexual harassment under the law.