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Jan 01

How to Prove Sexual Harassment at a Workplace in California

Your workplace should be safe for all employees. Though some jobs hold more physical risk than others, it’s important that your employers and coworkers do everything that they can to make the workplace environment pleasant and accessible to all. Unfortunately, sexual harassment can make a workplace feel anything but safe. Inappropriate comments, gestures, and actions can make it difficult to focus on the job at hand and can even leave employees in fear for their physical and emotional safety.

Fortunately, there are federal and state laws that make sexual harassment illegal and assign penalties for participating in such behavior. If you experience sexual harassment in the workplace, there are steps you can take to protect yourself, your employment, your family, and your future.

Often, the most difficult aspect of sexual harassment cases is proving that the incident occurred. Without corroboration from other employees, sexual harassment and sexual discrimination can be difficult to prove. Here are some tips for proving sexual harassment has happened to you.

What Are the Two Criteria for Workplace Harassment?

Harassment, whether sexual or not, must be identified before it can be proven. Because every situation is different, EEOC law defines two criteria that must be met to make up unlawful workplace harassment. These criteria are:

  1. The actions have created a hostile, abusive, or intimidating work environment by most people’s standards.
  2. Enduring the harassment is a condition of continued employment.

Any sexual harassment situation should demonstrate one or both of these elements. For example, let’s say that your coworker is sending you sexually charged emails. You’ve asked them to stop, but they continue, and it makes you reluctant to go to work. This would be considered harassment under the first criteria because it has created a hostile work environment.

Alternatively, let’s say your boss begins soliciting sexual acts from you and tells you that you’ll be fired if you refuse or if you tell anyone what is happening. The harassment has become a condition of employment and is therefore illegal under the first criteria.

What Qualifies as Sexual Harassment in the Workplace in California?

There are many examples of workplace sexual harassment. Each scenario is different depending on the individuals involved, the industry, and the circumstances surrounding the sexually charged actions. Sexual harassment commonly occurs with the following actions:

  • Obscene gestures
  • Explicit jokes, stories, or comments
  • Inappropriate texts, emails, or messages
  • Requests for sexual favors or actions or unwanted propositions
  • Derogatory comments about a person’s body, appearance, or sexual activity
  • Offers of employment perks, raises, promotions, or benefits based on the performance of sexual activities

What Evidence Do I Need to Prove a Hostile Work Environment in California?

Whether sexual harassment has created a hostile work environment or a condition of your employment, a skilled attorney can help you prove the events in court. To make the process easier and to increase the chances of receiving justice, you should:

  • Document any offenses that occur. Note the time, date, location, and details of what happened. Keep this in a secure location and add to it every time something new transpires.
  • Speak with the person or with HR. Telling someone is a key step in moving forward with your case. Though we hope that everyone understands what harassment is, the truth is that some people don’t realize that they’re making someone else uncomfortable. Speaking to them or to an HR representative ensures that they know that you’re uncomfortable and any further incidents are indicative of a hostile environment. Document and/or record your conversation.
  • Call your lawyer. If the harassment continues, contact your lawyer right away. At this point, the harasser is choosing to make you uncomfortable.

Sexual harassment is illegal under United States law. This means that both the offender and your workplace should take your complaint very seriously. If they do not, you have more than enough information to take legal action for a hostile work environment because the harassment is frequent and ongoing.

Should You Take Action Against Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment laws help to ensure that there is a legal pathway for you to follow to report and prosecute sexual harassment. Under this system, you can feel comfortable sharing your story and receiving a proper response. Though these situations are difficult, the law is here to help you seek justice.

As the victim, you should never feel as though you’ve done anything wrong. There is no shame in being sexually harassed, nor is there shame in reporting sexual harassment. In fact, these scenarios often have nothing to do with the victim and everything to do with the offender. The offender is the only person who should feel ashamed.

Contact an Employment Law Attorney

For many years, the team at Clark Employment Law, APC, has been fighting sexual harassment in the workplace. We know how intimidating and frustrating these scenarios can be and how difficult it is to work when you don’t feel safe from the offender. We’re here to help you ensure you can feel comfortable at work once again.

For more information or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.

FAQs

Is It Hard to Prove Harassment in the Workplace?

Harassment in the workplace is not always easy to prove. Sadly, some harassment is so subtle that it’s hard to prove. Sometimes, it takes uncomfortable conversations with others to discover if others are being similarly harassed. Talk to an employment law attorney to explain the situation. They can help you determine how to manage getting evidence for your case.

What Qualifies as Harassment in the Workplace in California?

Any unwelcome behavior or policy that is based on gender, sex, race, color, religion, or national origins, among other things. Any negative behavior based on these issues is harassment. Insensitive or racist jokes, sexually aggressive language, name-calling, and personal insults are all types of harassment. Assault or intimation that interfere with an employee’s performance are also types of harassment.

How Do You Win a Harassment Case?

To win a harassment case, you must prove that you have been harassed. To prove this, you must show how the workplace is a hostile environment. What’s important to understand is that it is not enough for you to feel the workplace is hostile or abusive; any reasonable person would feel harassed in the same workplace.

How Do I Prove a Hostile Work Environment in California?

Sexual harassment is illegal, but it’s not always easy to prove. If your employer doesn’t take your complaint seriously, you may need to talk with an attorney. Gathering proof will help you explain the situation. To prove you are working in a hostile work environment, document any offenses that happen, talk with HR, then call a California workplace attorney.

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