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How do I know if I have a sexual harassment claim in California?

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Geoffrey C. Lyon - Employment Litigation - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Geoffrey C. Lyon

Located in Long Beach, CALyon Law PC

Phone: 888-900-4102
Fax: 888-239-2462

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As a general guideline, if you are experiencing things at work that make you feel sexually uncomfortable or unsafe, it is entirely possible that you have a harassment claim. However, there are some limits and nuances that are important to understand.

Signs Of Sexual Harassment

You might have a sexual harassment claim if you have been subjected to:

  • Unwanted touching
  • Unwanted sexual remarks
  • Persistent requests to socialize or engage in sexual activity after you have refused
  • Pornographic or sexual images at work
  • Sexual jokes or innuendos

These instances can be considered harassment whether they occur in person or by way of digital communications like email, instant message or text.

If you have been subject to a sexually hostile work environment or if a manager or supervisor has offered to exchange work benefits for sexual favors, you could have a strong legal case of sexual harassment.

Who Is Liable?

One of the common questions we get involves liability. If, for example, the person committing the actions that constitute sexual harassment is not a boss or a supervisor, would it still be a case of sexual harassment?

The short answer is “yes,” but there are some nuances to this. First, for the employer to be liable for sexual harassment, either a supervisor or manager had to have committed the actions or the supervisor had to have known about the harassment but then did nothing to stop it.

However, a co-worker can be liable for sexual harassment even if the employer cannot be brought into the case.

What If You Are Not The Direct Target Of Harassment?

A common situation arises when someone is made uncomfortable at work, but they are not the target. If, for example, you are privy to a supervisor or co-worker harassing the person in the adjoining cube next to you and it creates an uncomfortable working environment for you, you could have a claim.

The First Steps

If you think you might have a sexual harassment claim, it is important to proceed strategically and carefully. The first step is to contact an attorney to determine whether you have a viable claim. An experienced lawyer can help you understand your rights and options.

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