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Sexual Harassment as a Result of Physical Touching
Sexual harassment covers a wide range of unwelcome conduct that is directed toward a worker due to their sex or gender. It can involve physical touching, verbal threats, sexual jokes, pranks, memes, visuals or graphics, derogatory remarks, or repeated requests for sexual favors. If you have faced sexual harassment as a result of physical touching, you should consult the Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers at the Kokozian Law Firm about the viability of a lawsuit for damages.Sexual Harassment as a Result of Physical Touching
Workplace sexual harassment laws, such as the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, protect both men and women. It is illegal for a man to sexually harass a woman, for a woman to sexually harass a man, or for either a man or a woman to harass someone of the same sex. Sometimes there is ambiguity about whether an action is sexual harassment and whether it crosses the line. Generally, however, it is important for supervisors, managers, coworkers, customers, clients, and others in a workplace to avoid innuendo, sexual jokes, or sexual advances.
Physical touching does not need to be motivated by sexual desire, and often it is not. Sometimes physical touching in the workplace occurs because the perpetrator wishes to exert power over another person.Types of Physical Touching
Physical touching is one of the clearer types of sexual harassment. Many courts have reasoned that physical touching is more offensive than verbal harassment. Behaviors such as touching of genitals, touching of breasts, touching of buttocks, rubbing of thighs, and crotch-grabbing are very likely to be viewed by a court as sexual harassment.
However, there are situations in which touching can be interpreted in more than one way. For example, touching a coworker’s shoulder or back may or may not seem sexual, depending on the circumstances and other physical factors. There is not a bright line test to decide which touching is appropriate and which is not. Instead, courts examine all the surrounding facts of each case. Touching will be illegal if it is unwelcome and either severe or pervasive enough to generate a hostile work environment or if it is part of a sexual advance by a figure of authority in the workplace.Quid Pro Quo Harassment and Hostile Work Environment Harassment
Often, courts divide sexual harassment into quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment. With quid pro quo harassment, a supervisor or manager conditions continued employment or an employment benefit on submitting to sexual advances. For instance, if your supervisor suggestively touches you, and you say that it makes you uncomfortable, but the supervisor says that you need to deal with it if you want to continue being employed by the company, this is quid pro quo harassment.
Hostile work environment harassment occurs when harassing conduct is either so severe or so pervasive that it makes the workplace hostile or abusive. Hostile work environment harassment can be perpetrated by a manager, supervisor, coworker, client, or customer. The physical touching must be both objectively offensive and subjectively offensive to be actionable. However, non-consensual physical touching is usually a clear-cut form of harassment, particularly if you are touched in an inappropriate place. Even a single instance of non-consensual physical touching may be severe enough to create a hostile work environment. Our attorneys can examine all the circumstances surrounding the physical touching.
You should let the perpetrator know that the touching is unwelcome and follow up by pursuing any grievance mechanisms that are set out in your employment handbook. If there are no grievance mechanisms set out in the handbook, you should report the incident to HR.Hire the Top Sexual Harassment Lawyer in the Los Angeles Area
If you were subject to sexual harassment as a result of physical touching, you may feel humiliated or degraded. You may have sustained economic losses as well. You may be able to recover damages by filing a sexual harassment lawsuit. At the Kokozian Law Firm, our attorneys fight for victims of sexual harassment. We are dedicated to pursuing sexual harassment claims aggressively in Los Angeles and elsewhere in California. Call us at 323.857.5900 or contact us via our online form.