Every day in California, millions of workers report to work. The vast majority of these workers are committed to fulfilling their job responsibilities to the best of their abilities, as required by their employers. Unfortunately, some find that illegal actions, including sexual discrimination, can make it difficult for them to do so.
For many workers, sexual discrimination comes in the form of sexual harassment. This behavior is in violation of state and federal law, specifically California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, respectively. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances as well as other acts, either physical, verbal or visual, that are of a sexual nature. These acts can create a workplace environment that can be offensive, intimidating or hostile and are based on the victim’s sex.
Actions do not have to have sexual desire as a motivation for them to be considered harassment, and illegal, under California law. Unfortunately, those who fall victim to such behavior often do not know how to respond. The first steps are to review company policy regarding sexual harassment and respond as directed and creating a written record of the behavior in question, including details about the incident as well as the date and time it occurred. Reporting the behavior to the employer is an essential step of the process as failing to do so could inhibit the pursuit of certain remedies.
A complaint can also be filed with either the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, a federal agency, or the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, a state agency; a complaint filed with either is automatically cross-filed with the other. The employer can then respond; if the response is not satisfactory or if it is determined that California or federal law was violated, the case will then be referred for mediation. For many victims of sexual discrimination, the process of taking appropriate action can seem overwhelming. Fortunately, there are professionals with experience with employment law who can help these victims take appropriate action.