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We are Lawyers Representing Workers Who Have Experienced Sexual Harassment Throughout California
The "Me Too" / "#MeToo" movement is an effort to effect social change, organized primarily through social media, which focuses on the experiences of sexual violence and sexual harassment survivors. The movement has sparked a modern-day revolution because sexual harassment and sexual assault affect a huge number of people every day. The movement is a source of solidarity for women from all backgrounds who have experienced sexual harassment, often perpetrated by a male colleague. Because of the increased awareness of sexual harassment and assault fostered by the Me Too / #MeToo Movement, many people have found the courage to tell their stories. These new accusations of misconduct have led to very powerful and prominent men being held accountable for their actions like never before.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as: "Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature . . . when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment."
Sexual harassment involves unwelcome sexual advances and conduct, including comments, actions, memes, visuals, objects, touching, and even assault. The harassment does not need to stem from sexual desire; it is actionable if it arises out of the employee's sex. Additionally, a perpetrator and a victim may be of the same sex. The federal law that prohibits workplace sexual harassment is Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The state law that prohibits workplace sexual harassment is the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Thus, if you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, you are protected.
California has recently enacted several laws inspired at least in part by the "Me Too" / "#MeToo" movement.Expanded Sexual Harassment Training In The Workplace
- Senate Bill No. 1343, approved by the Governor on September 30, 2018, amended Cal. Government Code §§ 12950 and 12950.1 to expand the requirements for sexual harassment training in the workplace. Formerly, employers were required to provide sexual harassment training only if they employed 50 or more employees and only for supervisory employees. Under the new law all employers who employ 5 or more employees must provide sexual harassment training for all employees.
- Senate Bill No. 1300, approved by the Governor on September 30, 2018, amended Cal. Government Code §§ 12940 and 12965 and added Cal. Government Code §§ 12923, 12950.2, and 12964.5 to, among other things:
- Specify that an employer may be responsible for acts of harassment by nonemployees.
- Generally prohibit employers, in exchange for a raise or bonus, or as a condition of employment or continued employment, from requiring an employee to sign a release of a claim or right under the FEHA or sign an agreement denying the employee the right to disclose information about unlawful acts in the workplace, including sexual harassment.
- Encourage employers to provide training to their employees so that as bystanders they can recognize potential harassment-type behaviors and take necessary action.
- Clarify that a plaintiff In a sexual harassment lawsuit need not prove that his or her productivity at work declined as a result of the harassment in order to prevail.
- Senate Bill No. 820, approved by the Governor on September 30, 2018, added Cal. Code of Civil Procedure § 1001 to prohibit language in settlement agreements in civil and administrative actions that would prevent the victim of sexual harassment from disclosing factual information concerning the harassment to third parties.
- Assembly Bill No. 3109, approved by the Governor on September 30, 2018, added Cal. Civil Code § 1670.11 to prohibit language in settlement agreements waiving a party's right to testify in a proceeding concerning the sexual harassment conduct of the other party to the settlement agreement.
- Assembly Bill No. 2770, approved by the Governor on July 09, 2018, amended Cal. Civil Code § 47 to allow the former employer of a person applying for a job with a prospective employer to communicate to that prospective employer whether the former employer would refuse to rehire the former employee based on the former employer's determination that the former employee engaged in sexual harassment.
- Assembly Bill No. 9, approved by the Governor on October 10, 2019, amended Government Code §§ 12960 and 12965 to extend from 1 to 3 years the statute of limitations for filing a lawsuit for employment discrimination or harassment.
- Assembly Bill No. 749, approved by the Governor on October 12, 2019, added Cal. Code of Civil Procedure § 1002.5 to prohibit an agreement to settle an employment dispute from containing language that prevents the settling party (the employee) from working for the employer against which the settling party filed the claim for sexual harassment or other employment claim.
Under both federal and state laws, a lawsuit needs to be filed prior to the statute of limitations expiring. Before a lawsuit can be filed, you need to exhaust your administrative remedies. The first step is to file either with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or with the EEOC. You have three years from the last instance of sexual harassment to file with the DFEH. A Me Too / #MeToo attorney in Los Angeles can guide you through this process.
Consult with Kokozian Law Firm. Sexual harassment can be very damaging, both economically and emotionally. If you faced workplace sexual harassment in California, you should talk about the viability of a legal claim with the experienced attorneys at the Kokozian Law Firm. Call us or contact us via our online form.