Sexual Harassment

In California, sexual harassment is considered a form of discrimination. Commonly, cases of employment-related sexual harassment involve female victims, but men, too, can be harassed. Frequently, the harasser is of the same gender and California law makes no distinction between same-sex harassment and opposite-sex harassment. Both are actionable. Sexual harassment may be an easy concept to understand in the most extreme situations involving unwanted touching or direct promises of benefits in exchange for sex; however, the majority of cases involve more indirect conduct. It takes an experienced lawyer, one familiar with the latest case law, codes and regulations, to recognize what is and what is not a legitimate claim of sexual harassment.

For a valid claim of sexual harassment to exist in the workplace, California legal decisions recognize two distinct forms of harassment. The first, called quid pro quo, is the most familiar, yet the least likely to occur. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when one aspect of the employment relationship is conditioned upon submission to undesired sexual advances. Unwanted sexual propositions are a common example of this type of harassment.

The second form of sexual harassment involves what is commonly known as a "hostile work environment." This occurs when the harassment is so pervasive as to alter the employment conditions and create what is considered to be an abusive work environment. Sexual advances are not necessary under this theory, only that the hostile environment was created on account of the employee's gender. Here, the employee must eventually prove that the harassing conduct was so severe, widespread or persistent that a reasonable person in the employee's circumstances would have considered the work environment to be hostile or abusive. The employee must also subjectively consider the work environment to be hostile or abusive.

Some examples of sexual harassment include, but are not limited, to the situations where the following becomes a severe or pervasive problem:

  • Sexual propositions, asking for dates
  • Offensive physical contact such as hugging, kissing or physical contact of a sexual nature
  • Lewd gestures, remarks or sexual innuendoes
  • Sexually offensive literature such as magazines, porn, posters or photographs
  • Sexually oriented jokes or comments, even when not directed at the offended employee

Ronald Wilton personally handles each sexual harassment claim from the initial interview to settlement or trial. The client is never left alone. Mr. Wilton is always available to respond to questions, to explain the process, or to help in any way. Claims of sexual harassment can be emotionally overwhelming to the employee client. At Wilton Law & Mediation, the client's best interests are the ultimate goal. Some clients prefer accepting a settlement to avoid the public nature and stress of trial, while others feel trial is the best solution.

Set up an appointment for your free consultation today with attorney Ronald Wilton by calling us at 818-906-3500, or fill out the online Contact Form and we will contact you as soon as possible.