Riverside Sexual Harassment Lawyers
Fighting to Stop Workplace Sexual Harassment Across Southern California
California workers have the right to a safe, harassment-free workplace environment. When that right is violated and employers either actively participate or allow harassment to continue, employees have the right to hold those employers accountable. Sexual harassment can be emotionally, psychologically, and physically damaging, leading to an abusive, hostile work environment that is simply intolerable.
If you’ve experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, you do not have to face that trauma alone. The sexual harassment and hostile work environment attorneys at Ochoa & Calderón have spent years protecting the rights of California workers, and we will not allow your hostile treatment to continue. We will help you hold your employer accountable for fostering an abusive workplace environment and for the suffering they allowed you to endure.
What is Sexual Harassment?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that has an adverse effect on the workplace environment. Specifically, those behaviors constitute sexual harassment when either:
- Toleration of such behavior is explicitly or implicitly made a term or condition of the individual’s employment;
- Submission to or rejection of that behavior is used as a basis for an employment decision affecting the targeted individual; OR
- The conduct is intended to or in practice has the effect of interfering with the targeted individual’s job performance or otherwise has created an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment.
Even a single instance of sexual harassment can be actionable if a worker is led to believe that their job or workplace benefits are on the line should they object. If harassment comes from coworkers rather than supervisors, then the harassment could rise to a claim if it leads to the creation of a hostile work environment.
What Conduct Counts as Sexual Harassment?
All manner of sexually charged behavior can constitute sexual harassment. While the quintessential claim for harassment involves a supervisor demanding sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits, a wide range of conduct is prohibited by employee protection and civil rights laws.
Some of the more common behaviors that can constitute sexual harassment include:
- Unwanted physical touching, including groping, hugging, kissing, or stroking
- Physically impeding a person from moving
- Actual or attempted sexual assault or rape
- Touching oneself sexually around another person
- Pressuring a worker for sexual favors
- Unwanted sexual advances or invitations, such as repeated requests for a date
- Unwanted sexual looks or physical gestures
- Sexually charged comments such as jokes, stories, or comments of a sexual nature
- Unwanted letters, text messages, emails, calls, or other communications of a sexual nature
- Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors
- Threatening an employee with termination or other consequences for refusing sexual advances or for reporting sexual harassment conduct
- Intrusive personal questions about an employee’s sex life
- Unprompted neck or shoulder massages
- Spreading rumors about an employee’s sex life
California & Federal Law Prohibit Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment in the workplace is unequivocally unlawful under both state and federal law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to employers with fifteen or more employees, prohibits sexual harassment and sex discrimination in the workplace. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) likewise prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace, has no minimum employee requirement, and offers broader protections than Title VII.
Under California law, employers are required to provide appropriate training to supervisors and workers to prevent sexual harassment as well as to take swift corrective action should sexual harassment in the workplace be discovered. If a supervisor or worker commits sexual harassment, the employer could be held liable if they either knew or should have known about the conduct and failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action.
Courts are reluctant to hold employers accountable for one-off instances of harassment unless the conduct was especially egregious (such as threatening to fire an employee if they refuse a sexual invitation), but if the employee can show a pattern and practice of harassing conduct leading to a hostile work environment, then the employer can and should be held liable.
Sexual Harassment Attorneys Serving Riverside and Southern California
If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace in violation of California state or federal law, reach out to Ochoa & Calderón for a free consultation. We take appropriate cases on a contingency fee basis, meaning we only charge a fee if we are successful on your behalf, and our fees come as a percentage of the amount we recover for you. You’ve got nothing to lose by calling now, but you could miss out on enforcing your legal rights if you wait too long. Call us at 951-901-4444 in Riverside or throughout Southern California at 844-401-0750. Our lawyers are ready to fight for you.