2024 What to Do If You Have Been Sexually Harassed at Work in California?

2024 What to Do

When someone at your place of work makes unwanted comments or advances of a sexual nature, you have every right to hire an employment attorney. You can take legal action against the at-fault party or parties to hold them accountable. An employment lawyer will help you understand what to do if you have been sexually harassed at work in California.

A successful claim with California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) can result in a favorable monetary settlement.

What Qualifies as Sexual Harassment in California?

Any unwanted or inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature can constitute sexual harassment. The at-fault party does not have to be explicitly soliciting sexual favors. The comments can be derogatory in nature and intended to humiliate and degrade you. Sexual harassment is either visual, verbal, or physical.

The term quid pro quo is often used when describing sexual harassment. The Latin phrase translates to “something for something.” In a sexual context, this could mean that a supervisor offers or alludes to offering something in exchange for a sexual favor.

Another potential cause of sexual harassment is a hostile work environment. Sexual harassment can result from one incident like groping, but it can also result from many concurrent events like having to pass by sexually explicit posters in your workplace. Another example could be a workspace where sexually vulgar jokes are repeatedly told in a public manner.

Other common examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Discrimination due to someone’s sexual orientation
  • Inappropriate physical contact
  • Invasions of personal space
  • Sexually suggestive notes
  • Sexual jokes
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Comments about someone’s body parts
  • Inappropriate comments of a sexual nature

Fortunately, California has many protections against sexual harassment. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act protects employees from sexual harassment in the workplace.

What Can I Do If I’ve Been Sexually Harassed?

The effects of sexual harassment can be devastating for the victims. The fallout from workplace misconduct can be detrimental to the personal and professional lives of victims. Many victims find solace in hiring an attorney to handle the drafting and filing of complaints with government agencies.

One law that is often used as the basis for legal action is the Fair Employment and Housing Act, which places the burden of preventing and addressing workplace sexual harassment on the employer. Anyone who owns a business is required to take steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace.

The act is enforced by the EEOC. Navigating EEOC filings is a complicated process, and victims of sexual harassment can benefit by hiring an attorney to handle those filings. The basic steps of filing a complaint include:

  • Collecting evidence and names of witnesses
  • Filing an administrative charge via mail, online, or in-person
  • Filing a complaint with the EEOC

Once the EEOC opens an investigation, your employer may offer a settlement to resolve the matter. Your lawyer will provide sound legal advice. If the EEOC determines that you have grounds to sue, you will receive a Notice of Right to Sue from the EEOC. This allows you to move forward with a civil claim against the at-fault party.

As part of a settlement or a successful civil case, you may be entitled to reinstatement if you were terminated. You may also be entitled to back pay for the lost wages you accumulated during your ordeal. Sexual harassment victims may be entitled to monetary damages for emotional distress. If the perpetrator committed a physical assault, they could face criminal charges in addition to facing civil liability.

Who Can Be Held Accountable For Sexually Harassing Me?

Sexual harassment victims can hold the offender accountable by filing a complaint. Employers and supervisors can also be held liable if they aided and abetted the acts of sexual harassment. They may also be liable if they knew about the harassment but took no steps to prevent or stop it. Your sexual harassment lawyer can determine who all may be at fault for your harassment.


Q: What Qualifies as Sexual Harassment in California?

A: Any act of a sexual nature that is unwanted can be considered sexual harassment. These acts are either physical, verbal, or visual. The harasser does not necessarily need to solicit sexual acts. They may use the harassing acts to bully or demean you. Your sexual harassment lawyer will consider the facts of your case when deciding whether to move forward with an EEOC complaint or another legal remedy for sexual harassment.

Q: How Long Do You Have to File a Harassment Suit in California?

A: In California, you have three years to file a sexual harassment claim. This deadline starts with the most recent incident. If you miss this deadline, you may not be able to file your claim. Taking legal action sooner rather than later often has benefits. Witnesses will have a better recollection of events, and evidence may be easier to gather.

Q: Is an Employer Liable for Harassment in California?

A: Yes. Your employer could be held liable for harassment in California, even if they were not the perpetrator of the acts in question. Under state law, employers are required to provide a safe environment for their employees. In some cases, the employer may have condoned the misconduct. In other cases, they may have failed to discipline an offending worker.

Q: Is My Employer Required to Provide Sexual Harassment Awareness Training?

A: Your employer is required to provide sexual harassment awareness training if they have five or more active employees. The training reminds employees that there are consequences to committing sexual harassment. The videos and literature also train workers to identify those types of misconduct in the workplace.

Schedule Your Workplace Sexual Harassment Consultation

Sexual harassment in the workplace should never be tolerated. The acts of misconduct can leave victims feeling isolated, frustrated, and humiliated. The Law Offices of Miguel S. Ramirez are here to help. We have helped many clients overcome the pain that sexual harassment can lead to. By holding the at-fault parties accountable, we can help you find a semblance of solace.

Building your case sooner rather than later can help you get the monetary compensation that you are entitled to. Contact the Law Offices of Miguel S. Ramirez today to schedule your consultation.

schedule an appointment

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.