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What Are My Rights Now That I’ve Been Fired for Complaining of Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment at work is just plain wrong. Being fired for complaining of sexual harassment at work is doubly wrong. If you have been fired for complaining of sexual harassment at work, you have the right to Contact an experienced employment attorney, such as the attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC. An experienced employment attorney can examine your situation, and, if merited, obtain a Right-To-Sue Notice from the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), the state agency responsible for enforcing laws prohibiting discrimination in the workplace based on sex, race, and other protected categories. Your attorney can then file a lawsuit on your behalf in civil court seeking damages. You also have the right to file a complaint on your own with the DFEH. If the DFEH accepts your case, the DFEH will investigate and help settle your complaint.What Is Sexual Harassment at Work?
Sexual harassment at work is a form of sex discrimination that violates the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) (California Government Code sections 12900-12996), and other state laws, as well as the federal Title VII of The Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 United States Code beginning at Section 2000e). As you might expect, under California law the term “sexual harassment” includes unwelcome sexual advances. What might not be as obvious is that the term “sexual harassment” also applies to physical, verbal, visual, or paralinguistic conduct or communication of a sexual nature or based on a person’s sex that creates a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment. Under California law, the harasser need not be motivated by sexual desire, though, of course, that is a common motivation. Offensive conduct motivated by the sex of the victim or a characteristic related to the actual or perceived sex or gender identity of the victim, such as pregnancy, may qualify as sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can be directed towards a person of the same sex as the harasser or towards a person of the opposite sex. Sexual harassment can be directed towards a person of the same gender identity as the harasser or towards a person of another gender identity. Sexual harassment is a broadly-construed form of sex discrimination.Should You Complain to Your Employer if You Have Experienced Sexual Harassment at Work?
Yes, if you have experienced sexual harassment at work you should complain to your employer of the harassment. While there is nothing wrong with making an oral complaint to your employer, you should also try to make a complaint in writing as well and keep a record of it regardless of whether your employer has a sexual harassment policy and regardless of whether a written complaint is required under any policy. While it is certainly appropriate to tell your harasser that the conduct is unwanted and offensive, any formal complaint should also be directed to someone at the company other than your harasser, even if under company policy your harasser happens to be the person to whom complaints are to be directed.How Do You Know If You Have Been Fired for Complaining of Sexual Harassment?
The following is a common sequence of events. A supervisor or coworker subjects a worker to unwanted conduct of a sexual nature. Depending on the power balance of the employment relationship and the personalities involved, the worker may find it very easy or very difficult to confront her harasser. She may do so almost immediately after the conduct begins or she may wait several months. At some point after the conduct begins the worker tells her harasser that the conduct is unwanted or offensive and demands that the conduct cease. The harasser may respond favorably to the request. The harasser may respond negatively to the request. Regardless of that, the harasser continues to harass the worker. The worker reports the sexual harassment to management. Management promises to investigate the matter, and management may in fact carry out some sort of investigation. Shortly thereafter, the worker is written up for something she did long ago, or for something she has been doing throughout her employment but for which she has never gotten into trouble until now. Then she is fired for attendance, or for violating a company policy, or for poor performance, even though the employer seemed to be happy with the worker until she complained of sexual harassment. Bottom line: an employer will rarely tell a worker that she is being fired for complaining of sexual harassment. The employer will usually justify having fired the worker based on a pretext, a false reason, which if believed would allow the employer to escape liability. However, through a close examination of the facts, an experienced employment attorney may be able to persuade a jury that the real reason the employer fired the worker was because she complained of sexual harassment.What Are Your Rights Now That You Have Been Fired for Complaining of Sexual Harassment?
- You may contact an experienced employment attorney, who can examine your situation, and, if merited, obtain a Right-To-Sue Notice from the DFEH. Your attorney can then file a lawsuit on your behalf in civil court seeking damages from your employer and perhaps also from your harasser. Hiring an experienced employment attorney is your best choice, as frequently it is your word against the word of your harasser and your employer. You may need a good attorney to piece together the facts of your situation effectively enough to persuade a jury that you have a valid claim for sexual harassment.
- You may file a complaint on your own with the DFEH, which enforces FEHA. The DFEH, in its discretion, may pursue remedies on your behalf. These issues are complicated, and time sensitive and as such contacting and retaining a top employment attorney should always be considered.
If you have been sexually harassed at work, or if your employer or former employer has otherwise violated your rights, call the experienced employment law attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC or Contact Us via our online form.