Remote Work and Sexual Harassment – It Can Happen Over the Computer

The COVID pandemic forced the world to pivot and adapt. It changed the way we look at our lives and our careers. The traditional workplace had to be reevaluated as millions began to work from home. The evolution and adaptation to working remotely happened fast and, in most cases, seamlessly.

As the perception of work environments shifts, so does the definition of workplace harassment. When work becomes home-based, there is a chance that harassment will follow employees into their homes. This type of invasion can have devastating impacts on a person’s mental well-being and the health of their family.

Identifying Harassment’s Red Flags While Working from Home

Forbes magazine recently put together the Forbes Human Resources Council, a meeting of eight human resource executives from various industries. These experts recently discussed a few of the red flags associated with workplace harassment as there was a mass migration of employees to remote work environments. Below are some key points each of them made:

  • Sanjiv Agarwal (HR Professional at Swiss Re) – He sees extended remote-work conditions as more opportunities for problematic behaviors like badgering female colleagues to video chat, hounding coworkers after normal business hours, and behaving inappropriate conduct on video calls. Managers should stay vigilant and address the behaviors promptly.
  • Jenna Hinrichsen (Director of Recruitment Strategy for Advanced RPO) – She thinks the safety of remote work can lead to behavior that is too relaxed during video calls. Coworkers and bosses can make inappropriate gestures and comments regarding someone’s personal appearance. A boss or coworkers should not make others feel uncomfortable or discriminated against. The comments and gestures should be reported to HR as soon as possible. 
  • Tammy Kelley (Senior Vice President Human Resources at Bethany Christian Services) – She has seen workplace harassment seep into remote work naturally. Living in a tech-heavy world can force lines to blur. People are used to joking around or arguing with friends on social media. Often, unprofessional tones and crass jokes can flow right into a Zoom meeting or a work group chat. Sometimes, the technological rules of engagement need reevaluation.
  • Rachel Lyubovitzky (Co-Founder, CEO, and Chairwoman at EverythingBenefits) – She knows virtual harassment can occur just as easily as face-to-face harassment. Employees should always report any messages, phone calls, or emails that contain hostile, inappropriate, or offensive language or pictures.
  • Tish McFadden (HR Professional at Maryland Oncology Hematology) – She affirms that working remotely causes social cues to relax too much. If a worker is trapped in a boring conversation at the office, they can walk away. When they are working from home, there is no escaping an incessant stream of messages or texts. And they may not have anything to do with work. If the messages make someone uncomfortable, they should tell the sender that it needs to stop. 
  • Bryan Passman (Co-founder and CEO of Hunter + Esquire) – He wants to avoid the use of unprofessional or obscenity-laced language. Not only can this type of behavior be exhaustive, but it can also affect families. In a lot of cases, remote employees have children in the house, often within hearing distance of their parents while they work. It does not hurt anyone to be professional. 
  • Karla Reffold (Chief Operating Officer at Orpheus Cyber) – She wants workers to avoid being left out of a conversation. This can be discriminatory and a form of harassment. Or it can happen accidentally as some workers come back to the office and others are left at home. Open lines of communication and consulting with supervisors and coworkers are essential for a successful business. 
  • Charmaine Marie Smith (Chief People Officer for Computer Services Inc.) – He addresses inappropriate comments made on work forums. She thinks there is not much difference between being in the office or working from home when it comes to workplace harassment. Text messages, emails, instant messages, or team meetings can all deliver harassing, inappropriate comments. Remote working can lead to company emails loaded with improper pictures or jokes. Any inappropriate conduct like this must be reported.

The Big Picture of Harassment 

Sexual harassment can be defined as inappropriate verbal or physical behaviors that offend, intimidate, discriminate, harass, or create hostile workplaces. This behavior may come in the form of unwanted sexual advances or physical conduct, sexual innuendos, or requesting sexual favors. These behaviors can explicitly or implicitly build hostile workplaces.

In the last two years, the workplace expansion to remote means definitions have expanded too. Because of virtual workplaces, terms like Zoom masturbation are added to the cultural lexicon.

In a recent survey conducted by Women at Work: A Global Outlook, the past two years have seen increases of workplace hostilities toward women, from 52% to 59%. An even 50% of working women claim they have endured microaggressions. Almost 15% of the women experienced various forms of harassment. Only 31% of these instances were reported. 

Examples of this harassment and microaggressions while working remotely included:

  • Undesired physical advances
  • Offensive sexual comments 
  • Having their judgment questioned or patronized because they are women
  • Being interrupted or talked over
  • Disparaging comments regarding appearance, mannerisms, race, or sexual orientation 

These non-inclusive behaviors occurred most often to women of color and L.G.B.T.Q. women.

Project Include, a nonprofit focusing on accelerating diversity and inclusion in the tech industry, recently reported significant increases in gender, ethnicity, and race-based harassment while working from home. Almost 25% of employees who are 50 years old and older have seen an increase in age-based hostilities.

Under California law, Title VII and the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. The risk of sexual harassment tends to rise in remote environments and the reasons for this increase include: 

  • Misinterpretation of the rules – Employees thinking policies and rules work differently outside of the physical workspace
  • Decreased support – Home-based employees have a lack of access to HR 
  • Easy access to substances – Closer proximity to alcohol or substances may contribute to poor decisions and offensive behavior
  • Constant access to virtual communications – Too much communicating between coworkers can lead to messages turning into inappropriate comments  

Employers are the ambassadors responsible for creating a healthy and safe working environment, either in the physical workplace or working remotely. A company’s existing policies should provide a framework ensuring a workplace that is free from harassment.

Activision Blizzard and the Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Lawsuit

Just because a company is a pioneer in the digital world does not mean it stays ahead of today’s legal requirements in the workplace to protect employees from sexual harassment and discrimination

Take, for example, gaming and entertainment dynasty Activision Blizzard, which recently settled for an $18 million lawsuit in favor of its employee claimants because of such allegations.

We will break down the steps leading up to this monumental case, including those that should and should not have been made by Activision Blizzard to create this hostile work environment – and why other organizations should take note. 

Who Is Activision Blizzard?

Founded in 2008 and headquartered in Santa Monica, California, Activision Blizzard is the result of the merger of Activision and Vivendi Games. The interactive gaming and entertainment company has created video games, such as Candy Crush, Call of Duty, World of Warcraft, Overwatch, Guitar Hero, Hearthstone, and Diablo. 

As of March 2018, based on revenue and market capital, Activision Blizzard was the largest game company in the United States and Europe. However, the mogul was not immune to controversies that have been exposed along the way, including accusations of infringed patents and unpaid royalties, as well as sexual harassment and employee discrimination. 

In January 2022, Microsoft announced its plan to acquire Activation Blizzard for $68.7 billion – the game industry’s biggest. If the deal goes through, the company will become a division of Microsoft Gaming. 

What Were the Allegations Against Activision Blizzard?

In late July 2021, Activision Blizzard was sued by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) for sexual harassment and employee discrimination. The DFEH and the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) both received anonymous tips on the allegations in 2018, sparking a collaborative investigation. 

The 2021 lawsuit accuses Activision of failing to rectify sexual harassment complaints, as well as discrimination against women in pay increases and promotions and discrimination against pregnant women. In fact, the company was accused of retaliating against those employees who complained. 

Led by an employee referred to as “Jane Doe,” who has worked at Activision since 2016 as a senior administrative assistant in the IT department, the case accuses the company of encouraging a frat boy-like work environment, including a pressure to excessively drink alcohol and play crass games – even by supervisors. She says female employees were regularly on the receiving end of sexual comments and groping by male co-workers. 

Doe was warned not to file a complaint to HR but expressed her concerns to the former president. As a result, after applying to several job openings in another department, she says she was offered a lower status role that paid drastically less. 

This lawsuit triggered a snowball downfall, which included an investigation by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, 700 additional reported incidents, workplace walkouts, firings or resignations, and the loss of many company event sponsors. 

How Was the Activision Case Settled?

As of March 2022, the U.S. District Judge approved an $18 million settlement in the sexual harassment lawsuit for all eligible claimants who began working at the company on September 1, 2016. It is the second-largest sexual harassment settlement negotiated by the EEOC. Activision, however, recorded $2.16 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2021 and a total of $8.8 billion for the year. 

As per the lawsuit agreement, the settlement will also go toward the following:

  • Sexual harassment and discrimination prevention programs to be put in place at Activision, as audited by the EEOC.
  • Any remaining funds to be given to charities that support women in the gaming industry or spread awareness of gender equality and sexism in workplace issues. The company will be legally required to deposit the funds within 30 days of the settlement.  

In addition to the settlement, Activision is required to:

  • Expand its mental health counseling services
  • Add personnel evaluations that employees can give to their corresponding supervisors
  • Bring on board an independent equal employment opportunity expert who will report to the EEOC
  • Host mandatory sexual harassment trainings for three years

If Activision does not uphold its end of the agreement, the EEOC has the right to seek additional financial relief. If Microsoft does indeed close the buyout deal, Activision president Bobby Kotick is expected to leave. 

What are the Sexual Harassment and Discrimination Laws in California?

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures and the fair employment laws of California, there are two types of unlawful sexual harassment at the workplace: 

  1. Quid pro quo, when a job or promotion is given based on an employee (or job applicant) submitting to sexual advances.
  2. Hostile work environment, when unwelcome sexual comments or actions make it impossible for an employee to conduct his or her work.

Sexual harassment can be defined as the following:

  • Verbal harassment – derogatory comments or slurs
  • Physical harassment – Touch or blocking  movement
  • Visual harassment – Sexual posters, cartoons, or drawings
  • Sexual advances – Unwanted sexual favors

As of January 1, 2021, employers are required in California to provide both supervisory and nonsupervisory training on sexual harassment once every two years. 

How to Fight Sexual Harassment on the Job in California

Employees in California, regardless of gender, can be affected by sexual harassment, a form of discrimination, in his or her work environment. Normally, the abuse is conducted by a superior to a subordinate, but it can be found at any level of employment, and it must be stopped before serious harm – both physically or mentally – is beyond control. 

Further forms of discrimination can be unlawful compensation severance agreements, non-compete disclosure agreements, or wrongful termination of pregnant employees.

Our team of legal experts at Sacramento-based Perkins Asbill has guided hundreds of clients toward the sound answers and personal advice they needed when facing the possibility of a sexual harassment case. It can be terrifying for those who feel they have been victims of discrimination – especially when they have to face co-workers they saw every day or a supervisor they trusted. Simply call us today. We fight for the justice our clients deserve. 

Your Step-by-Step Guide to Handling Sexual Harassment in the Workplace in California

Even in the post #MeToo era, sexual harassment is a pervasive problem for many workers. The presence of sexual harassment in the workplace can decrease employee efficiency and morale and leave workers feeling vulnerable to unwanted physical and mental abuse. Employees that believe they have been sexually harassed in the workplace should know the legal basics of their rights as workers to a safe working environment.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Under 29 CFR § 1604.11, sexual harassment is defined as the “[u]nwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” Workplace sexual harassment occurs when

  1. Conduct is made explicitly or implicitly based on a term or condition of a person’s employment.
  2. An employee’s submission or rejection of such conduct triggers an adverse employment action (termination, demotion, refusal to hire, etc.).
  3. Conduct that unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work, including creating an “intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.”

Sexual harassment can come in many forms and can be challenging to spot for some. Sexual harassment applies to both male and female employees equally (regardless of the sex of the individual causing the harassment) and can apply to an employee based on their sexual identity, sexual orientation, or gender.

Typical Examples of Sexual Harassment

In all honesty, sexual harassment is not and should not be seen as “typical” in the workplace, which is why many states and the federal government have robust anti-dscrimination protections enshrined in law. Nonetheless, sexual harassment happens in the workplace, and statutes, regulations, and case law have outlined certain behaviors that consistently constitute sexual harassment.  

Although sexual harassment comes in many forms, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has identified two of the most common scenarios where sexual harassment:

  • Quid pro quo (“this for that”): when a fellow employee or supervisor conveys an express or implied employment benefit (promotion, pay increase, additional perks, etc.) or detriment (threat of demotion or termination) for a sexual favor.
  • Hostile work environment: creating an environment that includes inappropriate touching, sexually charged comments and jokes, requests for dates, and displaying offensive pictures or slurs.

What is the Difference Between State and Federal Sexual Harassment Protections?

Contrary to popular belief, an employee cannot simply walk into a court and file a civil case against their employer for sexual harassment like they could with a personal injury or breach of contract. Instead, sexual harassment claims are handled under an administrative review process (when a governmental agency is tasked with adjudicating a legal matter) before filing a lawsuit. As a result, California residents can file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

In most states, the EEOC sets the baseline of requirements and procedures to investigate and adjudicate sexual harassment and discrimination claims in the workplace. However, agencies like DFEH typically provide employees additional benefits enshrined in state law. For example, California has a much longer statute of limitations for filing a discrimination or harassment claim against an employer and has historically maintained a longer list of protected classifications of employees experiencing discrimination. 

 

What is the Process like to File a Sexual Harassment Claim?

When employees believe they have been sexually harassed in the workplace, they will have to follow specific steps to address their claim. Although every claim is different, most claims of workplace harassment or discrimination follow a general path.

Step 1: Collect Evidence and Report the Issue

When an employee has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, they should report it to a supervisor, manager, or human resources. This provides notice to the employer that harassment has taken place and allows the employer to address the issue. Employees should also always collect evidence of the event(s). This can include written correspondence of the harassment like emails or internal memos. Employees should note any witnesses to the harassment and retain any documents showing an adverse employment action related to the harassment (demotion, termination, etc.).

Step 2: Filing a Claim

The employee must then file a claim with either the EEOC or DFEH describing the experience. Both agencies have a form an employee can use to file their claim. Employees should note that they only have 180 days to file a claim with the EEOC (300 days for age discrimination cases) and three calendar years to file a claim with the DFEH.

Step 3: Investigation

Once you file your claim, either agency will review the relevant facts and begin to gather evidence from both parties to determine whether a civil rights violation has occurred. Once an agency has complied with all relevant evidence, it will decide whether to file a complaint against the employee’s employer. Filing a complaint does not necessarily mean an employer is liable for harassment or discrimination but rather is an acknowledgment from the administrative agency that a violation has likely occurred.

Step 4: Alternative Dispute Resolution

Once a complaint has been filed, both agencies will require the parties to engage in mediation to resolve outstanding issues. For example, during mediation, the parties could discuss a legal settlement of all claims, including financial compensation for settlement, reinstatement to the employee’s former position (if terminated), adoption of new workplace policies, etc.

Step 5: Determination

If mediation fails, the agency will determine whether there is reasonable cause to continue pursuing a claim against the employer. If the agency believes reasonable cause exists, it will file suit in state or federal court (depending on the agency). On the other hand, if the agency decides to dismiss the complaint, the employee can file their suit or abandon their claim altogether.

If an employee wants to file a suit against their employer, they must obtain a “right-to-sue” letter from the agency. After a certain number of days from filing their claim, they can obtain a letter or once the agency has determined not to move forward.

Hiring an Attorney

Employees that experience sexual harassment in the workplace should consider contacting an employment lawyer as soon as possible. Although the EEOC and DFEH allow complainants to represent themselves, having an experienced employment attorney can provide needed representations as the process becomes more complicated.

Potential Remedies For Sexual Harassment Accusations in the Workplace

All too often, sexual harassment charges in the workplace are virtually ignored. People accused of harassment or discrimination may feel as though they have no right to fight back, or that it may be impossible to prove a negative–that is, that they did not harass someone else. Worse, you may feel as though you may face retaliation in the workplace if you fail to accept the charges and move on professionally.

The reality, however, is that you may stand to gain more from defending yourself than you think. If you have faced unfair sexual harassment charges in the workplace, consider what remedies you might pursue for those accusations and their impact on you.

Back Pay

Often, sexual harassment proceedings can have you out of work for days or even weeks during the investigation. Sometimes, that means being suspended without pay. You may even find yourself suspended without pay as part of a punishment for perceived sexual harassment. If you can prove that you did not commit an act of sexual harassment and that you were charged unfairly, on the other hand, you can not only collect compensation for the missing income, you can collect triple back pay for that period of time.

The triple back pay may also apply to increased income from promotions or raises that you would have received if you had not been accused of sexual harassment, but that you did not receive as a direct result of those accusations. Working with an attorney can help you learn more about the specific calculations for back pay in those circumstances. 

Reinstatement

Losing your job over a sexual harassment claim can prove devastating, especially if you did not commit that act of sexual harassment. Sometimes, you may want to continue to work for the company, especially if the loss of your job has impacted your ability to get a job in another field. If you were fired as a result of false sexual harassment charges, however, you may find that you have more rights than you initially thought, including the right to be reinstated in your former position. A lawyer can help you understand how reinstatement may work and how you should handle a request for reinstatement if your position has already been filled. 

Legal Fees

Legal fees are one of the top reasons that many people, when accused of sexual harassment, choose not to fight the claim. The cost of paying for a lawyer may seem incredibly difficult to manage, especially alongside the other costs that may pile up after a sexual harassment claim.

As part of your sexual harassment remedies, however, you may choose to pursue compensation for your legal fees. Your employer may have to take care of the cost of an investigation and lawsuit following an unfair sexual harassment claim. 

Emotional Distress

Facing sexual harassment charges in the workplace can leave you in immense emotional distress. You may feel immensely worried about what will happen next or face a considerable blow to your reputation. Talk to a lawyer about the emotional distress these accusations have caused you, including the overall impact they have had on your life, and how to include them as part of your claim.

Sexual Harassment Training and Policy Mandates

In addition to the financial remedies you can pursue for yourself in the aftermath of an unfair sexual harassment claim, you may also have the right to pursue changes throughout your organization. Your employer, in settling your lawsuit, will have to acknowledge that they did, in fact, commit a violation of your rights and that they failed to adequately investigate the incident. Then, your lawsuit may require them to make changes that will create impact for you and for other employees in the future. 

Training

Sexual harassment training can help employees learn how to identify sexual harassment in the workplace as well as establishing exactly what it is and how employees should respond when they experience or observe sexual harassment. Often, simply increasing awareness can go a long way toward changing things around the office. Proper sexual harassment training can also make it easier to determine when harassment takes place–or doesn’t take place–in the workplace, since other employees can help serve as witnesses. 

Policy Changes

Some employers, especially smaller employers, may not have sexual harassment policies in place until something happens in the workplace–and sometimes, especially in an at-will state, it may be easier to simply fire the employee accused of sexual harassment and move on. However, if you were unfairly accused of sexual harassment, simply firing you may open your employer up to a host of other legal challenges and complications. As part of your lawsuit, you can require that your employer create a solid policy that establishes:

  • What sexual harassment looks like, including specific examples of activities the employer needs to act on
  • How the employer needs to respond in the event of sexual harassment, including policies that protect both people who have faced harassment and those who may have unfairly been accused of harassment
  • A specific policy and plan for investigation in the event of a sexual harassment claim in the workplace

What Should You Do When You’re Accused of Sexual Harassment?

If you’re unfairly accused of sexual harassment, you have the right to fight those charges. You should:

Document relevant interactions.

Document all paperwork or communications sent to you regarding a sexual harassment accusation, including communications from HR that might indicate how you need to change your behavior or what you might need to do about it. You may also want to keep track of any communications you have with the individual who accused you. Back up emails and other documents if needed. 

Contact a lawyer.

If you have been accused of sexual harassment unjustly, you don’t want it on your employment record, nor do you want it discussed with potential future employers. A lawyer can help you determine your next steps, including how you can avoid potential future repercussions.

Did you face an unjust sexual harassment claim in the workplace? Contact Perkins Asbill, A Professional Law Corporation today at 916-446-2000.

Sexual Harassment Happens in the Virtual Workplace, Too

Remote work is here to stay. Businesses left with no choice but to find ways to survive during the pandemic turned to virtual technologies to keep them on course. After some initial growing pains, many businesses see little reason to backtrack now that their employees have adapted to staying productive via Zoom, Slack, and GoToMeeting (to name just a few popular virtual work tools). Workers like the flexibility of the virtual workplace, and businesses have warmed to the savings they can realize on rent, utilities, and other overhead when their employees work remotely. 

The accelerated transition to working virtually has not, however, eliminated problems that have long plagued the workplace. Instead, the new work format has merely evolved new ways for employees to misbehave. 

Sexual harassment, in particular, continues to intrude on the lives of workers everywhere. If anything, its devastating, disruptive effects can now reach further into employees’ lives than ever, because when it happens remotely it can find its victims anywhere they use a screen. 

Let’s take a look at some emerging types of sexual harassment in the virtual workplace, and how a skilled business and employment lawyer can help enterprises and victimized employees address them. 

Sexual Harassment Overview

To quote the Office of the California Attorney General, workplace sexual harassment consists of “unwelcome sexual advances, or other visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature and actions that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment based on an employee’s sex.” Sexual harassment is a form of illegal discrimination barred by state and federal civil rights laws. 

Under California law, conduct constituting sexual harassment is illegal even if it is not motivated by sexual desire. It is equally unacceptable when instead motivated by actual or perceived sex or gender-identity, actual or perceived sexual orientation, or by an employee’s pregnancy, childbirth, or related health condition. 

Sexual Harassment in Virtual Spaces

You don’t have to spend much time online to know that the virtual world is rife with offensive sexual material and conduct. It is, perhaps, unsurprising that virtual workplace sexual harassment has emerged so readily as work spaces have increasingly come to resemble internet spaces. 

But that does not make it any less damaging for workers and the businesses that employ them. The following conduct constitutes sexual harassment that, while virtual in its medium, is undeniably real and devastating in its effect on employees and employers.

Sending Sexually Offensive Messages  

A fast-growing segment of today’s workforce uses text-based messaging applications as its default mode of work and personal communication. The convenience and familiarity of messaging tools, and the text and emoji-based shorthand that have evolved from them, can foster sexually offensive behavior. Sexual harassment can occur when co-workers send or share messages containing crude jokes, innuendo, sexual double-meanings, and emoji with suggestive or explicit connotations. 

Sharing Sexually Offensive Imagery

The internet-age adage that if something exists, then so does internet pornography related to it, translates into real and persistent problems in virtual workplaces. The tools businesses have adopted to foster productivity, like messaging and team-working applications, are designed to make sharing imagery effortless. Unfortunately, that means it is also easy for a sexually offensive meme, .gif, video, or still image to make the rounds of a workplace, creating a hostile, sexually-inappropriate environment that harms employees and employers alike. 

Video Meeting-Related Misconduct

We have all laughed at now-(in)famous Zoom-meeting mishaps from early in the pandemic when everyone was still adjusting to work-from-home. However, thinking of video conferences gone awry only in terms of those lighthearted moments ignores a troubling and increasingly-common downside of meeting virtually.

To start, video conferencing applications can facilitate the types of offensive messaging and image-sharing discussed above. In addition, they can also become an outlet through which employees make unwanted sexual advances, mock or gang-up on a co-worker, attend meetings from inappropriate settings, wear offensive attire, and even expose themselves.

Additionally, video conferencing with work-from-home employees raises the specter of unwelcome intrusions on employee privacy. Commenting on items seen in the background of another co-worker’s at-home work space, for example, or taking and sharing screenshots of co-workers participating in meetings, can constitute illegal harassment.

Problematic 24/7 Access to Subordinates

In pre-smartphone times, leaving work for the day essentially severed communication between bosses and their subordinates until the following morning. That changed once everyone began carrying devices that ran email, messaging, and document management apps that enabled employers to demand their employees’ attention at all hours.

The move to remote work and its exclusive reliance on virtual technologies has pushed that trend into overdrive, resulting in a rise in sexually-tinged violations of employee boundaries. For example, routinely and knowingly sending messages to a subordinate during times the subordinate has set aside for personal activities that are arguably tied to sex or gender, such as going on a date or attending a pregnancy-related doctor appointment, can constitute sexually harassing behavior.  

How Business and Employment Lawyers Can Help

Employees who have been on the receiving-end of sexually harassing behavior in virtual workspaces, or who have suffered from a sexually hostile virtual workplace culture, may have the right to receive compensation for the harm they have endured. An experienced employment lawyer can advise them of their rights and options for taking legal action, and can seek compensation on their behalf if they decide to do so.

Businesses contending with virtual workplace sexual harassment can also benefit from timely, sophisticated legal advice. An experienced business and employment attorney can help business leaders craft legally-appropriate responses to instances of virtual workplace sexual harassment, and can work with them to develop policies and procedures aimed at eliminating sexual misconduct from their workforce. 

Perkins Asbill helps employees and employers alike in tackling the legal and practical challenges of virtual workplace sexual harassment. We advocate for employees in California who have suffered harm from sexual harassment in workplaces both physical and virtual. We also advise small and mid-sized Sacramento-area businesses on how to keep their brick-and-mortar and online workspaces free of sexual misconduct. 

To learn more about how we can help you address virtual workplace sexual harassment, contact us online or call us at 916-446-2000 today. 

How Should I Report Sexual Harassment at My Job?

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a growing problem. According to the EEOC, over 7,500 sexual harassment claims were filed in 2018, a 14 percent increase from the previous year.  Pew Social Trends reports that 27% of men and 59% of women experienced harassment. More than half of women report sexual harassment in the workplace and elsewhere. Experiencing harassment at work can be distressing, especially since the average worker spends significant time at work. Workers do not and should not have to put up with it. However, a survey conducted by CareerBuilder found that 72%of workplace sexual harassment victims don’t report it. There are many reasons why a victim does not report the harassment. In some cases, they simply don’t know how to report it. If you’re experiencing sexual harassment in your workplace, start within your workplace to report the harassment before pursuing other remedies.

What is sexual harassment?

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, job applicants and employees are protected under law from harassment in the workplace. However, some employees are unsure whether what they are experiencing actually is sexual harassment.

The key issue in sexual harassment is what the harassed person thinks or feels, not whether the person doing the harassing believes it to be harmless or even welcomed. It is one-sided in that only one person feels good about it. It may be offensive sexual behavior, either explicit or implicit. Victims feel intimidated, uncomfortable, degraded, or bad about themselves. Even if you do not immediately object or say “stop,” it still is harassment.   

Sexual harassment in the workplace can be subtle or blatant. The perpetrator can be a person of the opposite sex or the same sex.  It can come from supervisors, coworkers, or customers, and it comes in many forms. It may consist of acts or behaviors such as:

  • Physical behavior, including touching, unwanted sexual advances, and any type of sexual assault.
  • Sexual comments and jokes, whether or not you are the subject of the joke.
  • Displays of pictures, photos, drawings, etc., of a sexual nature, such as erotic calendars, computer backgrounds, or pornography.
  • Sending or sharing messages of a sexual nature, whether by text, emails, or an internal company messaging system.
  • Offensive comments on social media sites.
  • Unwelcome requests for sexual favors or dates
  • Sexual propositions
  • Facial expressions, hand gestures, and body movements of a sexual nature
  • Staring or leering at your body
  • Inappropriate comments about someone’s body or appearance
  • Intrusive questions about your private or sex life
  • Sexual innuendo or gender-based or sexual orientation-based objectionable language
  • Gossiping about someone’s personal relationships or sex life
  • Physically blocking a person’s movement

How to report sexual harassment in the workplace

If you are a victim of sexual harassment, it is important to report the issue for your own protection and to prevent it from happening to anyone else in the future. You may feel intimidated, nervous, or daunted, but you must speak up. Unless you feel unsafe, if a coworker has done something, like name call or violates your personal space too often, you may wish to send them an email clearly stating your boundaries and asking them to respect those boundaries. However, if the email has no effect, the email is proof that you tried to resolve the issue before reporting the problem.

Check your employer’s sexual harassment policy

All employers must have a sexual harassment policy in place. This policy can help you understand how your workplace handles harassment. Take note of information concerning how and to whom you should make your complaint, such as your supervisor, manager, human resources person, union representative, or employer. The person who will be investigating your complaint should be impartial and not have preconceived opinions about you or your harasser. Your employer probably gave you a copy of their sexual harassment policy when you were hired, but you may not have read it carefully. Now is a good time to familiarize yourself with it in light of your current situation. 

Make notes

As your complaint moves forward, there will be many questions. At some point, you will probably meet in person with the employer or their representative so that they can ask follow-up questions. It helps to have notes on any unwelcome and unwanted behavior of a sexual nature.  Avoid vague accusations. When you report sexual harassment, include as many details as possible. If possible, include:

  • What was said or done.
  • The date(s) it happened.
  • How it made you feel.
  • Others victims of the behavior.
  • Anyone who may have witnessed the behavior.

Put your complaint in writing

Write the details of your complaint in a letter, email, or another document, and always keep a copy. Even if you have discussed the matter with a supervisor or other appropriate person, you need to create a paper trail. Then send the complaint to the person listed as responsible in the sexual harassment policy. In the event that this person is the one you are complaining about, submit your complaint to somebody else in a senior position of authority.

Workplace retaliation is illegal

If possible, all claims of harassment should be handled and resolved in the workplace. You should receive the opportunity to fully explain your complaint and the resolution you want from it, for example, if you want an apology from the perpetrator or further action from the company.

Many employees are reluctant to report sexual harassment for fear of losing their jobs or positions. Many are not fully aware of their legal options. In some cases, even if the employee reports the harassment, the employer may stall, ignore or deny the complaint. The employer may retaliate against the employee by termination or failure to hire, reduced hours, a demotion, or a decrease in pay. Under EEO laws, employers may not retaliate against job applicants or employees for asserting their rights to be free from employment discrimination. This includes sexual harassment.

Contact an attorney

How Should I Report Sexual Harassment at My Job?

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a growing problem. According to the EEOC, over 7,500 sexual harassment claims were filed in 2018, a 14 percent increase from the previous year.  Pew Social Trends reports that 27% of men and 59% of women experienced harassment. More than half of women report sexual harassment in the workplace and elsewhere. Experiencing harassment at work can be distressing, especially since the average worker spends significant time at work. Workers do not and should not have to put up with it. However, a survey conducted by CareerBuilder found that 72%of workplace sexual harassment victims don’t report it. There are many reasons why a victim does not report the harassment. In some cases, they simply don’t know how to report it. If you’re experiencing sexual harassment in your workplace, start within your workplace to report the harassment before pursuing other remedies.

What is sexual harassment?

According to Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, job applicants and employees are protected under law from harassment in the workplace. However, some employees are unsure whether what they are experiencing actually is sexual harassment.

The key issue in sexual harassment is what the harassed person thinks or feels, not whether the person doing the harassing believes it to be harmless or even welcomed. It is one-sided in that only one person feels good about it. It may be offensive sexual behavior, either explicit or implicit. Victims feel intimidated, uncomfortable, degraded, or bad about themselves. Even if you do not immediately object or say “stop,” it still is harassment.   

Sexual harassment in the workplace can be subtle or blatant. The perpetrator can be a person of the opposite sex or the same sex.  It can come from supervisors, coworkers, or customers, and it comes in many forms. It may consist of acts or behaviors such as:

  • Physical behavior, including touching, unwanted sexual advances, and any type of sexual assault.
  • Sexual comments and jokes, whether or not you are the subject of the joke.
  • Displays of pictures, photos, drawings, etc., of a sexual nature, such as erotic calendars, computer backgrounds, or pornography.
  • Sending or sharing messages of a sexual nature, whether by text, emails, or an internal company messaging system.
  • Offensive comments on social media sites.
  • Unwelcome requests for sexual favors or dates
  • Sexual propositions
  • Facial expressions, hand gestures, and body movements of a sexual nature
  • Staring or leering at your body
  • Inappropriate comments about someone’s body or appearance
  • Intrusive questions about your private or sex life
  • Sexual innuendo or gender-based or sexual orientation-based objectionable language
  • Gossiping about someone’s personal relationships or sex life
  • Physically blocking a person’s movement

How to report sexual harassment in the workplace

If you are a victim of sexual harassment, it is important to report the issue for your own protection and to prevent it from happening to anyone else in the future. You may feel intimidated, nervous, or daunted, but you must speak up. Unless you feel unsafe, if a coworker has done something, like name call or violates your personal space too often, you may wish to send them an email clearly stating your boundaries and asking them to respect those boundaries. However, if the email has no effect, the email is proof that you tried to resolve the issue before reporting the problem.

Check your employer’s sexual harassment policy

All employers must have a sexual harassment policy in place. This policy can help you understand how your workplace handles harassment. Take note of information concerning how and to whom you should make your complaint, such as your supervisor, manager, human resources person, union representative, or employer. The person who will be investigating your complaint should be impartial and not have preconceived opinions about you or your harasser. Your employer probably gave you a copy of their sexual harassment policy when you were hired, but you may not have read it carefully. Now is a good time to familiarize yourself with it in light of your current situation. 

Make notes

As your complaint moves forward, there will be many questions. At some point, you will probably meet in person with the employer or their representative so that they can ask follow-up questions. It helps to have notes on any unwelcome and unwanted behavior of a sexual nature.  Avoid vague accusations. When you report sexual harassment, include as many details as possible. If possible, include:

  • What was said or done.
  • The date(s) it happened.
  • How it made you feel.
  • Others victims of the behavior.
  • Anyone who may have witnessed the behavior.

Put your complaint in writing

Write the details of your complaint in a letter, email, or another document, and always keep a copy. Even if you have discussed the matter with a supervisor or other appropriate person, you need to create a paper trail. Then send the complaint to the person listed as responsible in the sexual harassment policy. In the event that this person is the one you are complaining about, submit your complaint to somebody else in a senior position of authority.

Workplace retaliation is illegal

If possible, all claims of harassment should be handled and resolved in the workplace. You should receive the opportunity to fully explain your complaint and the resolution you want from it, for example, if you want an apology from the perpetrator or further action from the company.

Many employees are reluctant to report sexual harassment for fear of losing their jobs or positions. Many are not fully aware of their legal options. In some cases, even if the employee reports the harassment, the employer may stall, ignore or deny the complaint. The employer may retaliate against the employee by termination or failure to hire, reduced hours, a demotion, or a decrease in pay. Under EEO laws, employers may not retaliate against job applicants or employees for asserting their rights to be free from employment discrimination. This includes sexual harassment.

Contact an attorney

If reporting your complaint proves to be unsuccessful, you may wish to consult an employment attorney who will know the law and can guide you through the legal process. You may be entitled to compensation and other legal remedies, even if an employer dismisses sexual harassment complaints as unimportant or not worth investigating. For more information, please contact the experienced, dedicated attorneys at Perkins Asbill. Call 916-446-2000 or contact us online.

Preserving Your Rights: Filing a Timely Sexual Harassment Claim

While we might like to believe that sexual harassment doesn’t occur very often, that is unfortunately not true. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission receives approximately 7,000 claims of sexual harassment each year — and this number only represents workplace harassment that is reported. Sexual harassment is not reported far too often — and even when it is reported, sometimes the victim can’t recover because they have waited to long to bring the claim.

Read on to understand what constitutes sexual harassment and important considerations for bringing a timely claim to ensure you don’t lose the opportunity hold the perpetrator accountable.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Broadly defined, sexual harassment is unwelcome behavior that is:

  • Made a term or condition of an individual’s employment;
  • Used as a basis for employment decisions affecting an individual; or
  • Unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment

While there is no exhaustive list of behaviors that constitute sexual harassment, examples include:

  • Actual or attempted rape or sexual assault;
  • Unwanted pressure for sexual favors;
  • Unwanted deliberate leaning over, cornering, touching, or pinching;
  • Unwanted sexual gestures or looks;
  • Unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, remarks, or questions;
  • Pressure for dates;
  • Sexual comments about a person’s clothing, anatomy, or looks; and
  • Spreading rumors or telling lies about an individual’s sex life

Sexual harassment reports in California are higher than the national average, by 5% for women and 10% for men. More than 86% of women and 53% of men in California reported experience some form of sexual harassment in their lifetime. Verbal sexual harassment is most common, followed by physically aggressive forms of sexual harassment and cyber sexual harassment. Marginalized populations including foreign-born men, lesbian and bisexual women, and gay and bisexual men all report increased rates of harassment or assault.

How Long Do I Have to Report Sexual Harassment?

Every state places a limit on the amount of time a victim has to file a claim for sexual harassment, called the statute of limitations. In 2020, California tripled the amount of time an employee has to file a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) after an alleged violation. Previously, an individual only had one year from the date of the incident to report a violation. The law now allows employees three years to file a claim after the incident occurred.

The extension of the statute of limitations is intended to address the unique concerns associated with sexual harassment, including victim’s need for significant time to come to terms with the incident and to feel comfortable coming forward. Sexual harassment victims often also face serious concerns of retaliation.

Even though the statute of limitations has been extended, it is important to file a claim as soon as the victim is able. The more time that passes, the more likely evidence will be lost or witnesses memories will become hazy. An experienced attorney will work with you to prepare your claim and ease the stress associated with the process. Additionally, if you were the victim of sexual harassment in 2019, it is important to bring your claim as soon as possible.

How Do I Initiate a Claim?

Once you have confirmed that the statute of limitations has not passed, you will need to file a sexual harassment claim. If you have experienced sexual harassment, take the following steps:

  • Be familiar with your employer’s sexual harassment policy;
  • Document evidence of the harassment, including witnesses, after it occurs, including putting all complaints in writing;
  • Notify your employer about the harassment in whatever manner advised in the sexual harassment policy, or, if no policy exists, to a human resource or other responsible employee; and
  • File a complaint with either the DFEH or the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission — a lawyer can help you determine which agency should receive your claim;

After a complaint is filed with DFEH, the department will evaluate the facts and decide whether the complaint warrants further investigation. Once accepted, the DFEH will investigate the facts and legal issues and determine whether to pursue a complaint on your behalf.

You also have the option to file your own lawsuit for employment discrimination instead of using the DFEH investigation process. You will need to complete a Right to Sue notice. It is important to work with an experienced lawyer if you choose to pursue action against outside the DFEH investigation process.

Preventing Workplace Harassment

Employers should take reasonable steps to prevent sexual harassment, including having a clear sexual harassment policy. The policy should include a clear and safe reporting path for employees who have suffered sexual harassment, including appropriate assurances that the employee will not suffer retaliation.

California requires every employer of more than five employees to provide one hour of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention to non-supervisory employees and two hours of sexual harassment and abusive conduct prevention training to supervisors and managers once every two years. The training must include practical examples of harassment in a variety of categories including gender identify, gender expression, and sexual orientation. This training requirement is the minimum standard required of employers. If employers identify a need for additional training, they should take steps to provide the necessary training.

In addition to trainings and policies, employers must take active steps to discourage inappropriate jokes or other actions that create an environment that accepts or encourages sexual harassment.

Contact a Lawyer Immediately

One of the most important steps you can take after becoming the victim of sexual harassment is to contact an experienced attorney. At Perkins Asbill, our lawyers believe that every case matters and treat their responsibilities as more than a job. We are focused on protecting the rights of employees from all backgrounds and industries and believe that every employee deserves competent representation to enforce his or her rights.

If you are the victim of sexual harassment in California, contact Perkins Asbill today at 916-446-2000 or through our website to schedule a consultation.

California Compliance Deadline for Sexual Harassment Prevention Training Still Set For January 1, 2021

In 2018, California extended its law regarding anti-harassment training requirements to employers with five or more employees and mandated that non-supervisors and supervisors also had to receive this type of training. Yet, even though the original deadline for this prevention training was set for January 1, 2020. In 2019, Governor Newsom signed legislation extending this deadline to January 1, 2021. However, this amendment also clarified that any employer that provided sexual harassment training in 2019 was compliant with the requirements and did not have to provide any further training again for two years.

Yet, even with these updates, many employers are still confused with the sexual harassment prevention training requirements and their specific obligations. That is why, in this blog post, we will dive into these training details and provide you with answers to some frequently asked questions many employers have.

Anti-Harassment Training Requirements

Current California laws require that employers provide the following anti-harassment training:

  • One (1) hour of sexual harassment prevention training to non-supervisory employees.
  • Two (2) hours of sexual harassment prevention training to supervisors and managers.
  • This specific interactive training has to occur every two years. It includes the prevention of abusive conduct as a component of the program, as well as practical examples of harassment based on gender expression, gender identity, and sexual orientation.

COVID-19 Delay

Unfortunately, many employers delayed their anti-harassment training because of COVID-19 and California’s stay at home orders. Most hoping that by the summer, they could reschedule. However, based on the current state and county guidance, the ability to have in-person training remains challenging. Plus, there has been no further update about the Governor extending the deadline. As a result, it looks like the January 1, 2021 compliance deadline remains, and employers must provide the sexual harassment training to their employees by then.

How to Make the Training Work for You

Even though you may not provide in-person training, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) allows these live pieces of training to occur online, in a classroom, or in any other adequate, interactive format. This training:

  • May be completed by employees as part of a group or individually.
  • May be completed in portions as long as the total hourly requirements are met.
  • Is accessible on a mobile device or computer.
  • Is available in English, Korean, Spanish, Vietnamese, Chinese, and Tagalog.
  • Can have closed captioning turned on or off in any version.
  • Can have alt-text for all images and icons.

It is critical to note that the training module will not save progress. As a result, if you reload the page, you can end up losing your progress. Once complete with the training, your employees will be able to obtain a certificate of competition. This means that no matter whether they are using a mobile device or computer, they will be able to print, take a screenshot, save, or email the certificate of completion to you.

What are the Employer Requirements in California for this Training?

Regardless of how the training is completed, employers need to make sure they take the following actions:

  • Retain records of all their employees’ training for at least two years.
  • Provide abusive conduct and sexual harassment prevention training to their employees every two years.
  • Provide their employees with a fact sheet or poster developed by the Department regarding sexual harassment or comparable information.

Sexual Harassment Prevention Training FAQs

Since 2018, there have been many concerns regarding the sexual harassment prevention training. Typically, some of the most common questions include the following:

1. Why is this Training Required?

Sexual harassment is taken very seriously in California. Yet, despite it being against the law and there also being a greater awareness of the harms that come with sexual harassment. Many individuals are still subject to harassment because of a protected characteristic or their sex. As a result, this training was designed to remind and educate everyone about what is appropriate behavior and what is not appropriate behavior at work.

2. Who Needs To Be Trained?

Per the requirements, employers with five or more employees, all supervisory and non-supervisory employees must be trained. Regardless if they work at the same location or even if not all of them reside in California.

3. What Does the Training Need to Cover?

The Sexual Harassment Prevention Training needs to include practical guidance and information regarding the federal and state laws concerning:

  • The prevention, prohibition against, and correction of sexual harassment and any available remedies to victims of sexual harassment.
  • Practical examples of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation
  • Information about preventing harassment or abusive conduct based on gender identity, sexual orientation, and gender expression.

4. By When Does The Training Need to Be Completed By?

There has been no indication that the date will be extended due to COVID-19. As a result, all employees must receive this training by January 1, 2021. Those employers who have 50 or more employees still have an ongoing obligation to train any new supervisory employees within six months of them assuming their new supervisory role. However, beginning on January 1, 2021, new supervisory employees in workplaces of five or more employees have to be trained within six months of starting their supervisory position. Additionally, new non-supervisory employees must be trained within six months of their hire.

5. Do I Have to Take California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing Training?

No. The DFEH provides training as a resource to help employers. However, to meet the obligation, you do not have to use their training. Instead, you are allowed to take part in your own sexual harassment prevention training as long as it meets the specific California training requirements.

Let Perkins Asbill Help You Meet Your Training Requirements

Time is running out. If your employees still need to be trained, call the Perkins Asbill law firm at 916-446-2000. We can discuss your sexual harassment prevention training questions and provide your employees with a compliant training webinar making sure they get the required training done, even if they are remote. Please do not wait any longer. Contactus today.

Common Types of Harassment in the Workplace and What You Can Do About It

Harassment at a place of work is nothing to joke about. As an employee, you have a right to work at a site that is free from insults, intimidation, and bullying. And yet, even though there are established laws that protect you against these harassment tactics, this sometimes-illegal behavior still occurs. What makes this situation even worse is that there are so many different types of workplace harassment that even the most diligent of supervisors can miss the signs. However, as an employee experiencing this type of harassment, you should not just have to deal with it.

To help you better understand if you are getting harassed at work, we have prepared the following blog post, which will explain the most common types of harassment found in the workplace, and what you can do about it.

Discriminatory Harassment

Discriminatory harassment refers to the physical or verbal conduct that shows hostility towards another individual based on their race, gender, color, national origin, age, disability, religion, or other protected personal characteristics. Such workplace harassment is considered illegal under both state and federal law.

Racial Harassment

Racial harassment involves harassment due to your skin color, ancestry, citizenship status, or race. This harassment can include racist jokes, insults, slurs, racial disgust, and even degrading comments.

Gender Harassment

Gender harassment results from discrimination against another individual because of their gender. This harassment often involves stereotypes indicating how a man or a woman should act.

Religious Harassment

Religious harassment is more focused on an individual’s religious beliefs. However, it can sometimes overlap with harassment based on race. Religious harassment can involve comments or jokes about religious traditions, holidays, clothing, and customs. Or it can be in the form of pressure to convert an individual into a different religion.

Age Harassment

Age harassment often includes any teasing, unfair criticism, insults, or being left out of activities because of an individual’s age. According to the Civil Rights Act of 1964, employers are prohibited from discriminating against workers 40 years or older.

Disability Harassment

It is illegal to discriminate against another employee because of their real or perceived disability, their relationship to a disabled person, or their use of disability services. This type of harassment is often experienced through patronizing behavior, crude jokes, or refusal to provide reasonable accommodations.

Personal Harassment

Personal harassment is a type of harassment that is not based on one of the protected classes. But rather, it is the most basic form of bullying that is not illegal. Often this behavior creates an offensive or intimidating work environment for the victim, that includes

  • Crude Jokes
  • Offensive Comments
  • Personal Humiliation Tactics
  • Critical Remarks
  • Intimidation Tactics
  • Excluding Behaviors

Physical Harassment

Physical harassment, often referred to as workplace violence, is harassment that involves physical threats or attacks. In some instances, it can even be regarded as an assault. Physical harassment needs to be taken very seriously in the workplace and explained clearly to make the actions more defined.

Some examples of physical harassment include the following:

  • Threats of direct harm or an intent to inflict this harm
  • Physical Attacks that include shoving, kicking, or hitting
  • Threatening Behavior (such as shaking your fist angrily)
  • Destructive Behavior that is meant to intimidate another employee

Depending on the industry (health care, social services, law enforcement, education), the employees may be at a higher risk of workplace violence.

Power Harassment

When there is a power disparity between the harassed and the harasser, it is often referred to as power harassment. The harasser who has a higher status in the workplace hierarchy bullies someone in a lower rank, making excessive demands of them, intruding into their personal life, providing verbal intimidation, demeaning comments, or physical threats.

Psychological Harassment

Psychological harassment often involves specific actions that hurt an employee’s mental wellbeing. Victims of this harassment feel belittled or put down on a professional and personal level, and this harassment can quickly escalate into impacting their health, social life, and work product.

Psychological harassment can include actions such as:

  • Isolating the victim
  • Ignoring the victim
  • Trivializing the victim and their ideas or thoughts
  • Spreading rumors about the victim
  • Challenging anything the victim says

Online Harassment

Technology has significantly improved our working environment. However, as more employers embrace technology’s power, online harassment or cyberbullying is continuously on the rise. This type of harassment often includes:

  • Spreading gossip or lies about the victim through social media channels
  • Sharing humiliating information about the victim by mass chat or mass email
  • Sending harassing text messages or other instant messages to the victim

Retaliation Harassment

Retaliation harassment is a form of harassment used in retaliation against another employee for participating in a lawfully protected activity. For example, if employee A files a complaint against employee B, and employee B finds out, and they start harassing employee A as revenge for filing the claim- this type of harassment is called retaliation harassment.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of harassment that is sexual in nature and includes unwanted sexual conduct, behavior, or advances. Not only is this type of harassment always on the news, but what makes it so prevalent is that it can happen on any worksite, affect both men and women, and impacts the victim’s life immediately. Examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Sharing sexual photographs
  • Making sexual comments or jokes or posing sexual questions
  • Posting Sexual Posters
  • Inappropriate sexual touching or gestures
  • Sexually invading another employee’s space.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Quid pro quo sexual harassment also translated to “this for that” is a form of exchange-based sexual harassment. It is often experienced when a supervisor or manager conditions work benefits in exchange for some sexual favor. It can also occur if the harasser turns to blackmail to coerce another employee into a sexual act. This type of harassment can be either explicit or implicit, meaning the harasser can outright ask for the sexual exchange or hint at it.

Third Parties Harassment

Third-party harassment is a type of harassment in the workplace instigated by a third-party or someone outside the organization, such as a customer, supplier, or vendor. The victims of this type of harassment are often low-status workers or low-power jobs (such as a sales associate or cashier). And even though this type of harassment does not fit the typical workplace harassment narrative, it still is the employer’s responsibility to stop this behavior.

Verbal Harassment

Verbal harassment is often the result of personality conflicts that have escalated into something serious. Even though this harassment is not illegal, a verbal harasser usually involves a consistently unpleasant individual who is constantly throwing insults, swearing, yelling, or making public and private threats. These insults can be particularly damaging since they often go unnoticed by supervisors. It is also important to remember that if this harassment is based on a protected class, it is illegal.

How Can an Experienced Employment Lawyer Help?

If you are getting harassed at work, and you have taken the necessary actions to get this behavior to stop. Yet, your employer has not appropriately responded. You need to contact an experienced employment lawyer today. The legal team at Perkins Asbill is ready to provide you with the legal representation that you need and the help that you deserve. Do not wait any longer; call our office at 916-446-2000.

SEXUAL HARASSMENT HAS EMOTIONAL CONSEQUENCES

We recently discussed how victims of sexual harassment might have trouble coming forward regarding the accusations. There are several reasons for this; however, these victims need to come forward if they want the harassment to stop. We understand how hard this is to speak out but we can stand by your side.

Sexual harassment impacts victims in more ways than just physical issues. In fact, not all sexual harassment involves touching. The emotional impact of the events is what has a real impact on the victims. It is also what makes it so hard to handle the aftermath. Physical injuries will heal over time, but you might have to work hard to overcome the mental impacts.

One of the first things that you have to do when you are being harassed at work is to let the person know that their behavior isn’t wanted. Tell them to stop. You also need to file an official complaint with the appropriate person at the company. Oftentimes, companies will have one person who takes these complaints; however, you should be able to file it with any person in authority with whom you feel comfortable.

We can help you find out what other actions you need to take. Escalating things beyond the local company might be in order, especially if the company isn’t doing anything to address the issue. We know that you might want to just put this behind you, but you might be able to receive some compensation for the event. This could help you get medical care and mental health care to help you learn to live your life.