5 Basic Questions About Sexual Harassment

posted by Daniel Stevens  |  Sep 5, 2018 2:30 PM [EST]  |  applies to California


5 Basic Questions About Sexual Harassment You Thought You Knew The Answers To


Now, look at the 5 basic questions about sexual harassment you thought you know the answers to, every employer should have a zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy, yet sexual harassment remains a recurring issue within the workplace.  With that in mind, as an employee, you may think you have all the answers to how to handle a sexual harassment issue at work but the employment laws of California may differ. Common questions that victims of sexual harassment within the workplace ask are questions about whether he or she should quit, who do they make the complaint to, how to make a complaint, whether it is legal for the employer to fire them for complaining, and what happens if they are forced to take a leave after he or she complains.  All of these questions may seem like that have simple and straightforward answers but they do not. Each case is different from the next but with the guidance of an Employment Lawyer, you could get the answers you need for your particular situation.


  1. Should I quit?

You’re being sexually harassed at work, you feel totally helpless and unsafe in your own work environment, so do you just quit?  Maybe you have told the harasser to take a hike but he or she still won’t take a hint. Perhaps it is actually your boss who is sexually harassing you so you’re afraid to complain.  Or maybe you are being bullied by other employees or managers into not disclosing the details of your harassment.  All of these possibilities are unfortunate, but they do happen. Some victim’s of sexual harassment naturally feel inclined to escape the situation they have found themselves in by leaving their job. Of course, this is an understandable reaction but for certain reasons, an employee who has become a victim of sexual harassment at work should evaluate their options and rights under the employment laws that their state provides before making the decision to quit.


At the end of the day, the decision to quit is ultimately one that the employee needs to make him or herself. However, giving the employer the opportunity to correct the sexual harassment can be beneficial in the grander scheme of things before deciding to leave the company. This is beneficial to you as an employee for a few reasons, one being that you would save yourself from having to leave your position and being forced to find a new job which is a hassle and may take a toll on you financially until you find another job. Also, your employer may remedy the issue right away if you draw their attention to the issue.  Lastly, by formally complaining, this may demonstrate in legal proceedings that you did your part in placing your employer on notice about the unlawful behavior.

So should you quit? If you are unsure as to whether you should quit or not, you should contact an Employment Lawyer who handles cases on the plaintiff side in employment law, which means their firm represents employees against their employers. The employment laws in California are complex

  1. Who do I talk to?

First things first, it may be helpful to begin at the source. You can always initially tell the person making the sexual and or romantic advances that you are not interested and or that their behavior towards you is unwelcome. You dot necessarily need to go directly to the harasser and tell them to stop if you do not feel comfortable, but it is a possible place to start. In addition or alternatively, you can report the issue of sexual harassment to your Human Resources Department, that is one of the purposes of a company even having the department. Also, you could talk to a manager or supervisor, they do not even need to be a manager or supervisor in your particular department, as any manager or supervisor has a duty to report complaints of unlawful activity. Lastly, there may be a hotline you may call internally in your Human Resources Department.

  1. How do I even make a complaint? 

If you have been sexually harassed at work, generally the first step is to make a complaint.  The complaint can be verbal or in writing, but written is generally more effective.  The complaint would ideally entail details of the alleged harassment, such as when it occurred, prior incidences of harassment, who was involved, possible witnesses, and also that you found the behavior by this particular person or persons to be unwelcome.

Keep in mind that it may be beneficial to keep a record and or copy of all communication you may have with anyone at your work regarding your complaint.

  1. But what if I am fired for complaining?

In general, it is prohibited by law for an employer to terminate an employee for making a complaint about something illegal, which includes reporting sexual harassment. Sexual harassment in the workplace is considered unlawful behavior and is prohibited by employment laws in California.  This means that if you make a complaint about being sexually harassed, your boss would not be permitted by law to have the right to fire you. Firing you for making a complaint about sexual harassment may give rise to a potential wrongful termination claim.

It is possible that an employer may not fire you in direct response to you making a complaint about sexual harassment, but he or she might begin treating you adversely shortly after you make the complaint which may be considered as retaliation.  An example of retaliation would be transferring you, reprimanding you for bogus reasons, cutting your hours, removing you from the schedule, or even demoting you. These are possible signs of retaliation which may result in your termination.  This termination may also give rise to a wrongful termination claim even if it did not happen right after you made the sexual harassment complaint.

  1. What if I have made a complaint and I am placed on leave?

Perhaps you made a complaint about being sexually harassed and in response, you were placed on leave. Sometimes employers or the company’s Human Resources Department will place an employee on leave in order for the company to conduct an investigation. The length of the leave and whether it is paid or unpaid varies. But if this does happen, contacting an Employment Lawyer may be beneficial in discussing what steps you may need to take. Again, each case is different which is why the close consideration of a sexual harassment lawyer is necessary to give you the advice that is right for your individual circumstances.


Source:  5 Basic Questions About Sexual Harassment

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