Sexual harassment is a pervasive issue that can affect individuals from all walks of life across any industry. It might not always make the headlines, but it deeply impacts those who become victims. Unfortunately, the California city of San Bernardino is no exception to this problem. It can be spotted in even the most seemingly healthy workplaces or at home behind closed doors. Understanding the importance of recognizing, addressing, and preventing sexual harassment can empower those living in San Bernardino to fight back when something doesn’t seem or feel right.
If you think you’re a victim of sexual harassment, it’s crucial to contact a lawyer so you can protect yourself and be sure the perpetrator is held accountable. At Clark Employment Law, APC, our attorney has a long history of aggressively representing victims of workplace sexual harassment.
Behavior that constitutes sexual harassment in a workplace would be any unwanted engagement of a sexual nature that affects an individual’s employment or creates a hostile work environment. These behaviors can be verbal, physical, visual, or a constant combination of all three at any given time.
Some common examples include:
Sexual harassment can manifest in both obvious and nuanced ways. Some incidents are immediately noticeable by everyone, while others could go unrecognized for years until the victim finally decides to address the harassment. Being able to recognize the subtle signs of sexual harassment can help protect you and your colleagues from illegal abuse.
Some signs to look out for include:
Unsettled Feelings: Check your gut feelings as much as you can. If you notice yourself repeatedly feeling uneasy or uncomfortable when a specific person walks by without a clear reason, it could be an instinctual response to harassment. Once you have recognized this pattern of unsettled feelings, try to hone in on what exactly is triggering it.
Persistent Rumors: No one likes rumors, especially when they’re circulated by professional peers. Some abusers will intentionally spread rumors as a tactic to keep control over their victims. If these stories continue to happen around the workplace, it could indicate a pattern of harassment exists.
Behavioral Changes in Others: If you start to notice that a colleague is suddenly becoming distant out of nowhere or has had a dramatic shift in their personality, it could be cause for concern. This is a common behavior of someone who recently went through an upsetting experience and isn’t able to hide their discomfort. Sometimes, people are good at hiding that they are hurting on the inside, so this doesn’t mean not to look for other signs as well.
Retaliation or Change in Treatment: If you refused someone’s advances or overlooked one strange comment and believe you are facing retribution, there is a strong chance the two events are connected. A sudden change in responsibilities or being excluded from happy hours could be one tactic an abuser might use to punish their victim. They also might start providing unjustified negative feedback on your performance without any proof your output has declined. This is a form of workplace harassment that cannot go unaddressed without turning into something even worse.
Overstepped Boundaries: An earlier sign of abuse can begin with something as simple as someone touching your items that don’t belong to them or standing really close. It might not seem like a big deal, but it could set the tone and signal to an abuser that you might welcome even more forward behaviors down the road. If it’s something that makes you uncomfortable, even if you are certain the individual did not have malicious intent, it is advised to still let the person know politely how you felt to deter it from happening again.
One of the most unfortunate aspects of sexual harassment is that both individual instances and long-term patterns of abuse can go unreported for years. This is mainly due to fear from the victim that they will be retaliated against or no one will believe them. However, speaking out is the key to restoring your own mental health and to help prevent the abuse from happening to others in the future.
The following steps are a general process that can be followed to effectively report harassment:
The most important thing throughout the entire process is your safety. If the nature of the incident is so heinous that you do not feel safe to spend another minute at work, contact the local authorities immediately. They can remove the alleged abuser or offer you other protections while the company and legal system try to get to the root of what happened and hold the responsible parties accountable.
A: Yes, there is nothing stopping anyone from suing for alleged harassment in California. The state takes these types of allegations very seriously under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). In this, it states that employees have protections against any harassment or discrimination that is caused because of protected characteristics like their gender, race, age, etc. Anyone who believes they have faced this type of workplace discrimination should connect with an attorney to evaluate their rights and what legal remedies should be advanced.
A: Race and gender-based discrimination are among the most reported incidents of workplace discrimination in the Golden State. This is when an employer or colleague creates a hostile environment and treats an individual differently based on their gender or race. For example, an employer could deny a job opportunity or raise in pay because they unfairly believe the individual is not ready for the next level because they are a woman. Another sign this could be happening in the workplace is when executive leadership is entirely white, with no racial diversity to be found at all.
A: A statute of limitation is a period of time granted to an individual to report an alleged crime. There are limitations on how long you have to report certain crimes in an effort to keep the state’s resources focused on crimes with recent evidence. You have three years from the date of your most recent sexual harassment incident to file an official claim with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). For individuals who may have been harassed in the past but missed the statute of limitations, the opportunity to file will come again if a new incident occurs. If you’re not sure if you still have legal grounds to advance a claim or not, check in with an attorney who will collect all the details of your case and let you know what options you have.
A: There is no maximum limit for compensatory damages awarded to a plaintiff if they successfully prove in court that the harassment occurred. Many different factors will play a role in the final compensation award, such as the severity of the harassment and how much of the individual’s own money was spent on medical care or therapy to deal with the issue on their own. A compelling reason to work with a California harassment attorney is to maximize the final amount you can be awarded due to their ability to assess the full scope of the case and not leave any money on the table.
Sexual harassment is one of the most disappointing and disturbing types of civil rights violations. Tyler F. Clark, the sexual harassment attorney at Clark Employment Law, APC, has seen every type of workplace violation and has a history of successful cases to prove it. Contact us today.