In California, sexual harassment in the workplace includes unwelcome sexual advances or other conduct of a sexual nature. The conduct might be visual, verbal, or physical. Harassment also includes actions that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces the federal laws against sexually harassing an employee. Victims of harassment may file a charge of discrimination with the EEOC requesting remedial action. The laws enforced by EEOC require you to file a report/claim before you can file a lawsuit for unlawful harassment or other discrimination based on those types of claims.
When the EEOC closes the investigation, it will provide a Notice of Right to Sue, which gives you permission to file a lawsuit in court. If you want to file a lawsuit prior to the end of the investigation, you may request the Notice of Right to Sue letter from the EEOC office that is investigating your charge.
The Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) protects Californians from unlawful discrimination in employment, housing, and businesses and from hate violence and human trafficking. If you feel you were the victim of harassment in the workplace, you may file an intake form with the DFEH. You will then undergo an interview with a department representative to determine whether the DFEH will investigate a formal complaint.
Instead of undergoing the DFEH Investigation process, you may instead hire a lawyer and file your own lawsuit by obtaining a Right-To-Sue notice from the DFEH. It’s important to know that after receiving a Right-To-Sue notice, the DFEH will not investigate your complaint, even if you decide later not to file a lawsuit.
Under California law, claims against supervisors most often fall under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). The FEHA prohibits sexual harassment by both supervisors and employers. Under FEHA rules, the employer is strictly liable for workplace sexual harassment by a supervisor. A qualified attorney can help you evaluate whether the harasser is your supervisor under the law.
It’s important to know that as a plaintiff in a workplace sexual harassment claim, you have the right to keep your identity confidential. California’s Stand Together Against Nondisclosure (STAND) Act permits claimants in sexual harassment lawsuits to request a provision in their settlement agreement that requires their name to remain confidential. However, the facts surrounding a claim for sexual harassment, workplace harassment, or discrimination based on sex or gender that is filed with a court or administrative agency can no longer be kept confidential through a settlement agreement, except to identify the claimant at the claimant’s discretion, and even then, only if the defendant is not a public official or government agency. This Code currently allows the amount of settlement to be kept confidential.
If workplace sexual harassment or assault is putting you in a life-threatening situation, call 9-1-1 immediately. When you are not in immediate danger, contact an experienced attorney for help protecting your rights. CaseyGerry has decades of experience assisting victims of sexual abuse and assault. We can discuss your situation and explain your options moving forward. We welcome you to contact the firm at (619) 238-1811 to schedule a consultation.