Top Rated Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Attorney
Workplace sexual harassment on the job is one of the most difficult and demeaning experiences that someone could ever face. Usually, the harasser is someone who has power and is using it to humiliate someone else for their own gratification. It is a sensitive topic, but one that must be discussed. The alternative is that harassers could get away with their behavior without facing consequences.
One way to address sexual harassment in the workplace is to file a lawsuit. If your employer will not protect your legal rights, they can and should be made to pay for the harm that they have caused you. Don’t forget that strong sexual harassment laws on the books mean that you are not powerless. When you hire a Los Angeles employment law attorney, you can take strong legal action to assert your rights.
Federal Sexual Harassment Laws
Sexual harassment was made illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. After changes to the law decades ago, victims have the right to file a private lawsuit against their company so long as there are over 15 employees.
The federal law prohibits discrimination based on sex. While the law does not specifically forbid sexual harassment, courts consider it a form of sex and gender-based discrimination. After all, you are being treated differently (and worse) on account of your sex or gender. Before you file a federal lawsuit, you must file an administrative complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC).
California’s Sexual Harassment Laws
In addition to the federal laws, California also has its own statutes that make sexual harassment illegal. In California, the law is called the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). It prohibits the following:
- Unwelcome sexual advances
- Physical and verbal conduct of a sexual nature
- Actions that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment based on an employee’s sex
You can also file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) as opposed to a sexual harassment lawsuit. However, you need to weigh which action has a better chance of getting you the justice and compensation that you need. California laws often give you another option if, for some reason, you cannot file a claim under federal laws.
This is why you need a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney if you have been sexually harassed at work, and your attorney will advise you about the best course of action that could lead to compensation.
Statistics About Workplace Sexual Harassment
The reported statistics about sexual harassment vary greatly. Some estimates are that more than 80 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission's own numbers from a recent study reveal that between 25 and 85 percent of women experience sexual harassment at work. The next year, an NBC/Wall Street Journal poll placed the number at 48 percent of the people surveyed.
One of the major problems is that we do not even know the full extent of the problem. A majority of incidents of sexual harassment will go unreported. There is a good reason for that because the harasser is often a person with power over the career of the victim. Many people are afraid of possible retaliation if they report the conduct, even though the law prohibits it.
While much of the statistics focus on men sexually harassing women in the workplace, the problem is not limited to that. Any type of harassment based on sex is illegal. There have been instances of women sexually harassing men on the job. In fact, roughly one in five reports of sexual harassment have been made by men. Another particular problem is same-sex sexual harassment, as more than half of LGBT employees state they have been victimized on the job.
The Types of Workplace Sexual Harassment
There are generally two different types of sexual harassment in the workplace. They are:
- Quid pro quo - This ties employment actions such as raises, promotions, or even being able to keep your job to submitting to sexual harassment. This could also cover instances in which you feel that you have been unfairly treated because you denied requests for sexual favors or an unwelcome sexual advance.
- Hostile work environment - This is when requests for sexual favors and other verbal sexual conduct create an environment that is hostile or offensive or makes a situation where you are not able to effectively do your job.
In some cases, even one instance of harassment can form the basis for the lawsuit. For example, if someone made an overt threat after you rejected their sexual advance, that alone could be enough to win a lawsuit. However, when it comes to a hostile work environment claim, you may need to show that the conduct happened often, and the employer did nothing to stop it despite having notice.
As you can see, sexual harassment lawsuits will go into the facts of what happened. They are all about testimony and evidence to prove your case. Many cases end up being one person’s word against another, so you need a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney with experience in these cases to persuasively tell your side of the story.
Who Can Be a Harasser?
Many people think that it is only sexual harassment if your supervisor does it. However, the universe of possible harassers is much larger than that. Anyone in the workplace can commit this act. Here are some examples of possible cases of harassment from people besides your supervisor:
- Your co-worker who sits in your area who you see every morning makes an inappropriate sexual remark when they greet you.
- You are subject to harassment by clients who make sexual demands when you go on a sales call.
- Another supervisor in the company makes an advance and threatens you.
How to Prove Your Sexual Harassment Case
With so much depending on testimony, you might be wondering how you could prove your sexual harassment claim. Very few harassers will come straight out and admit what they did. They can’t because they would likely be fired if they were guilty of this conduct. Nonetheless, when you are filing a civil lawsuit, you have the requirement to prove that what you were saying is more likely than not to have happened.
Of course, like any civil lawsuit, you will need to give your testimony about what happened. The good news is that you can also use other evidence to prove your claims, even circumstantial evidence. Here is some of how you could meet your burden of proof:
- Your direct testimony and that of other witnesses
- E-mails, voice mail recordings, and other pictures
- Circumstantial evidence such as the proximity of an adverse employment action to when you claim the harassment happened
- Records of prior complaints that you had made and a lack of response by management
Financial Compensation in a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
If you are successful in your sexual harassment lawsuit, you are entitled to financial compensation from your employer. You may be wondering how much your lawsuit is worth if you win or settle your case. The answer that we can give is that it depends on the actual damages that you suffered. Like any type of lawsuit where you suffered damages, you would receive payment to compensate you for what you lost.
Here is what you could expect damages for in your sexual harassment lawsuit:
- Money for the wages that you lost from time missed from work if you were fired from your job
- Compensation for job search expenses if you had to look for a new job
- Payment for harm done to your personal or professional reputation
- The difference in pay that you would have received if your treatment prevented you from receiving a promotion or raise
- Pain and suffering if the harassment made you ill and the cost of any medical bills
- Compensation for emotional distress that you suffered
- Punitive damages if the employer’s behavior was particularly shocking or egregious
- Attorney’s fees
Your settlement or award in a sexual harassment case could be considerable. Although massive cases are outliers, there have been cases where the jury has been repulsed by the defendant’s behavior. For example, in 2012, a California jury awarded a woman $168 million after a two-year pattern of pervasive and extremely degrading behavior to a hospital worker. There have also been multimillion-dollar settlements with former Fox News employees who alleged harassment at the hands of some of the big names at the network.
The value of your case will depend on many factors, and the right attorney can help you know what you might expect in your particular case after evaluating your circumstances.
Reasons to Come Forward with a Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
It is always worth pursuing a sexual harassment case. It is about more than just financial compensation. Victims also want justice for what they were subjected to at work. Not only that, but here are other reasons to file a sexual harassment lawsuit:
- The company that you are suing may be forced to make changes because nobody likes to be sued or have the negative publicity that goes along with a lawsuit.
- You would call attention to what the individual perpetrator did, perhaps leading to discipline against them
- You could clear your name if it was tarnished by the experience that you went through.
While there have been some cases with very large settlements or jury awards, the average case may not be a multi-million dollar case. Nonetheless, that should not stop you from pursuing justice for illegal behavior.
What Not to Do After Sexual Harassment
Many attorneys will tell you what to do after you have been the victim of workplace harassment. Here is what not to do.
Don’t Blame Yourself
Do not question yourself in the aftermath of sexual harassment. While many victims tend to blame themselves or think that they provoked the harassment, never forget that sexual harassment is illegal behavior. When someone else crosses the line, it is their problem and wrongdoing and not yours. Do not let any feelings of self-doubt get in the way of getting justice and compensation.
Don’t Be Afraid
While the company may try to retaliate against you if you file a complaint, it is clearly illegal for them to do so. Even if you are never able to prove that the sexual harassment happened, you can still file a lawsuit if you are fired or otherwise retaliated against once you made a complaint. This is its own special class of complaint. It takes courage and determination to come forward, and the company wants to make you afraid.
Don’t Think You Cannot Take on the Company
Some people think that they cannot get justice because they do not think that they have a chance against a corporate employer. If you were harassed, never forget that the law is on your side. It is the company that should be in fear because details of sexual harassment lawsuits look terrible if they ever make their way into the media. In addition, if companies are known to have toxic environments where people cannot work without fear of being mistreated, they will have trouble recruiting the best people.
Don’t Think You Can’t Afford a Lawyer
Sexual harassment lawsuit attorneys will work on a contingency basis. This means that they are paid only if you win your case, meaning that you have received a settlement of the jury has ruled in your favor. Then, they are paid a percentage of the proceeds of your case. You do not need to write a check up front to retain a lawyer. In fact, you do not need to write a check at all. If you are worried about having to pay a lawyer hundreds of dollars an hour for your case, we can put that fear to rest.
Consult with Our Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyers
At the Eghbali Firm, our reason for existence is to help employees who have been victims of employer misconduct. We are unafraid to take on the big companies. Fighting for employees is what we do. We are a boutique law firm with the experience and resources to fight against any business that has subjected you to unlawful conduct. To schedule your initial consultation with Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney, call us today at (310) 909-8533 or contact us online. We offer free consultations where we will explain your legal options.
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