We Are Sexual Harassment Lawyers Protecting the Civil Rights of California Employees
The attorneys at the Genie Harrison Law Firm are passionate about helping victims of sexual harassment. Being subjected to abuse because of sex or gender makes victims feel helpless and cuts to the core of our self-worth, dignity and place in the community. Genie Harrison has experienced sexual harassment herself, and she understands the pain and suffering that victims may experience. [CLICK HERE to read Genie’s story in Super Lawyers Magazine].
What is “Sexual Harassment?”
There are generally two types of sexual harassment in employment situations.
The first is known as “quid pro quo” harassment. “Quid pro quo” translates to “something for something.” It is when a term of employment is conditioned on submitting to unwanted sexual advances. In other words, quid pro quo sexual harassment happens when a supervisor requires you to engage in sexual conduct in order for you to receive an employment benefit. A common example would be when your boss requires you to sleep with him or her in order to receive a promotion.
The second is known as “hostile work environment.” This occurs when an employee is subjected to unwanted harassing conduct because of sex, gender, and/or gender expression. The harassment must be so severe OR pervasive such that any reasonable person in the victim’s position would have considered the work environment to be hostile or abusive. Conduct is severe or pervasive when it alters the terms and conditions of employment. Conduct that is occasional, isolated, sporadic or trivial is not considered severe or pervasive.
A hostile work environment may be created under the following circumstances:
- when the harassment is directed at you;
- when the conduct is not directed at you but you personally witnessed the harassment in your immediate work environment; or
- when there is widespread sexual favoritism in your work environment.
What are some examples of sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to, the following:
- Sexual harassment could be either verbal, written or physical, or a combination of these.
- The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim may be of the same sex.
- The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
- The victim does not have to be the person harassed, but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
- Unlawful sexual harassment does not have to cause economic injury to or discharge of the victim, meaning you don’t have to be fired for it to be a hostile work environment.
- The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
How do I know if I am a victim of sexual harassment?
If you feel that someone in your workplace is making unwanted sexual advances or creating a hostile work environment based on your gender, you’re probably right about what’s happening. As Genie Harrison says, “trust your instincts.” (CLICK HERE for a YouTube video by Genie Harrison with tips for workers who encounter sexual harassment.)
If you are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, or another professional or social situation, you may feel powerless, vulnerable and afraid to speak out. Our experienced attorneys can help you in assessing the situation, and we will do so with compassion and empathy. You are not alone. We are here to help you recover.
What should I do if I am being sexually assaulted?
If the sexual harassment is physical – if unwanted touching or rape is occurring – we strongly recommend that an immediate police report be made. Find your nearest police or sheriff’s station and make a report.
Here are some police departments in the Los Angeles area:
Los Angeles Police Department: www.lapdonline.org
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department: www.lasd.org;
Glendale Police Department: www.glendaleca.gov
Culver City Police Department: www.culvercitypd.org
Santa Monica Police Department: www.santamonicapd.org
Beverly Hills Police Department: www.beverlyhills.org
If your police department is not listed above, CLICK HERE for a full list of local municipal police departments, with links to their web pages and phone numbers.
If you have been the victim of unwanted touching or sexual assault at work, it is incredibly important that you obtain treatment from your personal physician and emotional support through individual and/or group therapy.
We understand how difficult it can be to reach out for help, to talk about what happened, and to experience the feelings that come with being a sexual assault survivor. The first step to healing is getting help.
Sexual assault resources that can help include the National Sexual Assault Telephone Hotline, also called RAINN Hotline: (800) 656-4673.
CLICK HERE for more information.
What should I do if I think I am being sexually harassed?
First, tell the harasser to stop if you feel it is possible to do so. If not, that’s totally understandable. We have been in both situations – where we were able to confront the harasser and also when we were not able to confront the harasser – so we truly understand.
We offer a few words of support to those who are considering telling the harasser to stop — we know that it is scary and can be really hard to do this. But you have the right to tell the harasser that what he or she is doing is wrong.
If you can have someone who will support you there when you tell him or her to stop, that could be very helpful, both emotionally and in the future for corroboration that you told him or her to stop. If you are not able to have a witness present, send him or her an email confirming that you told him or her to stop, or at least send the email to yourself detailing what you said, when, where and what he or she said.
It Is Illegal for an Employer to Retaliate Against an Employee for Reporting Sexual Harassment
Please know that it is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting sexual harassment. You are supposed to be free to report sexual harassment — your employer’s policies probably even encourage you to report the conduct. If you reported the sexually harassing conduct and/or are worried about retaliation, contact one of our sexual harassment lawyers to get compassionate support and help.
To those who do not feel they can confront their harasser – we truly understand and respect your instincts. There are many reasons why you may feel it is impossible to confront your harasser, including fear of retaliation, responsibilities to you family, or fear that the harasser’s conduct could escalate. If you feel you cannot confront your harasser, this means that you need to get help sooner rather than later because there is a serious power imbalance at work.
Remember, we understand because we have been through this ourselves and we have represented many victims of sexual harassment. Unfortunately, our experience is that it is not likely to get better once sexual harassment starts. So it is important to contact one of our sexual harassment lawyers to get compassionate support and help.
Document The Harassment Carefully
It is important to document the harassment carefully, and detail your reporting of the sexually harassing conduct (if you have reported) and the responses of your employer. The attorneys you contact at the Genie Harrison Law Firm will ask you for the details of what happened and when, so that we can assess your case.
Please do not worry if you do not already have detailed information, you can provide your best recollection of the events and estimates of dates. Also, it’s important for you to keep all written communications like texts, instant messages, social media messages, emails, etc., and provide those to us for our review in assessing your case.
Reporting The Harassment to Your Employer May Be Required by Your Employer’s Policies
Reporting the harassing conduct to the employer, i.e. someone who is not your harasser, is important and is probably required by your employer’s policies. Even though it is scary to do this, reporting helps you begin taking back your power and can truly help protect others.
We understand that there are circumstances, like where the harasser is the head of the company or another very powerful person, when reporting may feel unrealistic or impossible. This reality speaks to the power imbalance you are experiencing, and we are here to help. We are happy to talk with you about this and help you make the right decision under your specific circumstances. Contact one of our sexual harassment lawyers to help compassionately guide you through the process.
Report the Harassment, Your Employer Must Take Action
Once you report the sexual harassment, your employer has an obligation to conduct an immediate, full and fair investigation, stop the harassment and punish the harasser (assuming the wrongful conduct occurred). Your employer is breaking the law if it does not take action or if you are retaliated against.
In California, Sexual Harassment Claims Must Be Filed No Later Than ONE YEAR After The Wrongful Conduct
If your employer does not respond in an appropriate and satisfactory manner – meaning conduct an immediate, full and fair investigation, stops the harassment and punishes the harasser, you may wish to pursue a legal claim. In California, sexual harassment claims require that you to file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (https://www.dfeh.ca.gov) no later than one year after the wrongful conduct. Once you file with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing and receive a “right-to-sue notice,” you have one year to file a claim in civil court.
CLICK HERE for more on SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAW AND HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF.
Finally, But Most Importantly, We Help Victims Recover
Sexual harassment and victimization can be devastating to anyone who experiences this conduct. Please take good care of yourself and seek out therapy if at all possible. Feel free to contact us if you need help with finding professionals that can aid in your recovery.
Seeking help is not a sign of weakness — rather, it is a sign of courage.
Talking about these experiences helps us process what happened and begins the healing process. Contact one of our sexual harassment lawyers to help compassionately guide you through the process of obtaining help.
Why are we the best sexual harassment lawyers for you?
At the Genie Harrison Law Firm, we are passionate, relentless victim’s rights and employment lawyers who have earned a solid reputation fighting for California employee rights. Through single-plaintiff, multi-plaintiff and class action cases, we have obtained in excess of $73 million in settlements and verdicts for our clients. We care about victim’ rights, and we make a difference. We hope we can help you too.
Take back your power. Contact us now at (213) 805-5301. Se habla español.
Our multilingual staff speaks Spanish, Armenian, Arabic, Farsi and French.