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Wrongfully Fired due to Sexual Harassment
Not all forms of harassment or bad treatment directed at you by your employer are unlawful. However, Sexual Harassment in the workplace is unlawful, as Sex is among the personal characteristics that receive special protection under the law. Sexual harassment encompasses a wide variety of conduct, from direct requests for sexual favors to recurrent behavior related to sex that creates a hostile work environment for the targeted worker. The behavior of supervisors, coworkers, and sometimes even non-employers in the workplace can form the basis for an actionable sexual harassment claim.Common Situations That Lead to You Being Fired due to Sexual Harassment
Fired because you did not submit to sexual advances: People are fired due to sexual harassment because they refuse to give in to a supervisor's sexual advances. As far as your supervisor is concerned, your continued employment is conditioned on you submitting to his or her sexual advances. When you rebuff your supervisor's advances, you are told your work performance is unsatisfactory, when in reality you are wrongfully fired due to sexual harassment.
Fired because you reported sexual harassment: If you are sexually harassed at work, or observe another employee being sexually harassed, you have the right to—and you should—report the behavior to your employer. Your employer must then investigate the matter and, if warranted, take necessary corrective action (which might include removing the harasser from the workplace) to ensure you or your coworker are not harassed again. If your harasser is a coworker, you should report the behavior to your supervisor or someone in the human resources department. If your harasser is your supervisor, you should report the behavior to human resources or someone further up the supervisory chain. Unfortunately, sometimes an employer would rather protect the harasser—who may be perceived as a highly valued employee—than address the harassment. So instead, your employer conjures an excuse (an untrue or wildly exaggerated allegation of misbehavior on your part) to fire you, hiding the fact that you are being wrongfully fired due to sexual harassment.
If you are fired due to sexual harassment, Contact the caring and experienced attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC. We know the ins and outs of successfully pursuing a sexual harassment claim.Laws Prohibiting Sexual Harassment Applying to California Workers Federal Law:
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (42 United States Code section 2000e et seq.) makes it unlawful for your employer to discriminate against you with respect to your compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment, because of, among other personal characteristics, your sex. Unlawful discrimination under Title VII includes sexual harassment if the conduct is sufficiently frequent or severe to create a hostile work environment, or if it results in a tangible employment action (refusal to hire or promote, firing, or demotion, etc.)State Law:
The California Constitution makes it unlawful for your employer to discriminate against you on the basis of specified personal characteristics, including sex.
Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA):
FEHA prohibits sex discrimination. FEHA (California Government Code section 12900, et seq.) makes it unlawful for your employer to discriminate against you in the terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of, among other personal characteristics, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
FEHA prohibits sexual harassment. FEHA also makes it unlawful for your employer to harass you on the basis of, among other personal characteristics, sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation.
Discrimination versus harassment
While similar, there are important distinctions between discrimination and harassment claims. Discrimination involves bias on the basis of sex in the exercise of official actions on behalf of an employer. Harassment involves bias on the basis of sex expressed through interpersonal relationships in the workplace. While your supervisor cannot be held personally liable for discrimination in exercising management authority, your supervisor can be held personally liable for harassment. While a discrimination claim requires that you have suffered an adverse employment action (fired, demoted, suspended, transferred to a less desirable shift, etc.), a harassment claim does not. If the social environment at your workplace becomes intolerable and creates a "hostile workplace environment" due to harassment, this may be an actionable harassment claim even if you are not fired, demoted, suspended, etc. Often the same conduct can lead to actionable claims for both discrimination and harassment.FEHA Provides Broad Protections Against Harassment Sexual Harassment Need Not Be Motivated By Sexual Desire
Under FEHA, sexually harassing conduct need not be motivated by sexual desire. For example, if your supervisor is harassing you because he dislikes women in general out of meanness or bigotry but has shown no interest in making a sexual advance towards you, this is nonetheless actionable as sexual harassment under FEHA. Examples of behavior supporting such a claim include not responding to a worker's greetings, shunning a worker at staff meetings, belittling a worker's job or performance in front of others, making demeaning gestures or facial expressions, excluding a worker from social activities, commenting on a worker's body odor. To establish sexual harassment under FEHA, a plaintiff must show that if the plaintiff had been a member of the other sex the plaintiff would not have been treated the same way. If the supervisor treats both men and women the same, albeit very badly, this is not sexual harassment however unsavory, unpleasant, and unprofessional the behavior might be.Sexual Harassment Directed at Paid Interns and Others is Prohibited
Under FEHA, not only employees and job applicants are protected, but also independent contractors providing services under contract, unpaid interns, and volunteers.All Employers are Prohibited From Engaging in Sexual Harassment
Under FEHA, all employers are prohibited from engaging in sexual harassment regardless of size or number of employees.
Examples of harassment under FEHA include:
- Verbal harassment. Suggestive comments, epithets, derogatory comments, or slurs, etc.
- Physical harassment. Physical interference with normal work or movement, or other unwanted touching, etc.
- Visual forms of harassment. Posting in a place the victim frequents derogatory or suggestive drawings, posters, cartoons, or photographs, etc.
- Sexual favors. Unwanted sexual advances where receipt of an employment benefit (such as retaining your job) is conditioned on a sexual favor, etc.
(See California Code of Regulations, Title 2, section 11019)
No supervisor or other employee needs to engage in these behaviors to carry out the legitimate objectives of business operations or personnel management.Contact Us
If you have been sexually harassed at work, or if your employer or former employer has otherwise violated your rights, call the experienced and caring employment attorneys at Kokozian Law Firm, APC or Contact Us via our online form.