Last Updated on January 22, 2024 by Asfa Rasheed
Sexual harassment refers to any form of unwanted verbal, nonverbal, and physical gesture that makes a person uncomfortable. A victim may agree to certain misconduct and even participate in unacceptable and offensive sexual behaviors. Therefore, when the victim calls it quits and a harasser continues in sexual misbehavior, it is sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment occurs in different settings, the workplace, home, shopping mall, religious institutions, and school. Victims and harassers can be of any gender. According to research conducted in Southern California, 65% of the victims are women. You can learn more about the research by visiting https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6978506/.
In modern times, statutes and laws prohibit all forms of sexual abuse even in the workplace. The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), California Government Code Sections 12900-12996 proscribe sex abuse in the workplace, either as an incentive for promotion or employment. These laws do not include offhand comments and teasing, although they can be upsetting.
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WHAT COUNTS AS SEXUAL HARASSMENT
There are different forms of sexual harassment, some of them include the following:
- Sexually touching yourself near another person
- Elevator eye — looking someone from up to down
- Changing work-related topics to sexual discussions
- Inappropriate touching of the person’s body, clothes, and hair, when they are around you.
- Unwanted hugs and kisses
- Blocking the person’s path to make advances to them
- Demonstrating sexual signs with your hands
- Spreading lies and rumors about a person’s sexual life
- Cat-calling and making kissing sounds
- Forceful penetration on the victim
How to Avoid Sexual Harassment
Sex abuse sometimes leads to sexual assault, which mostly involves the harasser physically touching the victim without their explicit consent. Examples of sexual assault are forceful penetration (rape), coercion to perform oral sex, and unwanted touch.
Events leading to a sexual assault may be reasonable or unreasonable, while in some cases, the harasser may not know that their actions are punishable by law. There may be no witness to a sexual assault; no witness to the act does not connote that it never happened.
Harassers range from close buddies to total strangers, and the frequency of abuse can be once. Protect yourself from a sexual assault by doing the following:
- Avoid getting drunk when you go out with friends.
- Know where and who you are going out with
- Be alert when you are with total strangers.
- Quietly back from a heated argument before it turns physical
- Say “no” in a clear and assertive voice.
- Do not be in an enclosed area for too long with strangers, even buddies.
WHEN DO I CONTACT A SEXUAL HARASSMENT LAWYER?
Contact your lawyer as soon as possible to find out whether what happened to you in your workplace qualifies as sex abuse. A sexual harassment lawyer can help you navigate through the whole process of investigation, filing a lawsuit, and protecting yourself from future harassment.
Find out what your employer’s policy says about who to report to following sex abuse. In some workplaces, human resources or managerial employees handle such cases. Your lawyer may help write a sexual misconduct report and direct your report to appropriate managers or employees.
Over the years, sex abuse in the workplace has gained infamous attention, masking in many forms. Keep a record of these harassments and present it as evidence when reporting to your human resources. Your sexual harassment lawyer Los Angeles may draft a strong petition to your manager to put a stop to the abuse, even without going to court. If you are harassed in the workplace, first:
1. Get Your Employer Involved
Once you are sexually harassed, let your employer know. Most employers are swift to take action to nip it in the bud. On the other hand, if your employer shows a nonchalant attitude in handling the issue, it strengthens your case.
The State of California has a law that prohibits employers from any form of retaliation. Find out about your company’s anti-harassment policy, which details who to file a complaint to in case of sex abuse.
2. The California Civil Rights Department (CRD)
Before filing a complaint with your employer, file your harassment complaint with the California Civil Rights Department and request a “right to sue” letter. The CRD’s Online Intake Form can be submitted by mail, call, and online after creating an account with them.
3. Contact FEHA
After you obtain the “right to sue” letter from CRD, the Fair Employment and Housing Act requires it before you can sue your harassers. Your sexual harassment lawyer is to file a strong complaint in court.
EFFECTS OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT
A victim of sexual harassment may experience one or a combined issue with mental, emotional, and physical adverse effects. Some of them include:
- social withdrawal
- Eating disorder
- Sleep disorder
- Feeling powerless or losing control
- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
- Suicidal thoughts
- Drug abuse
Finally, quid pro quo harassment need not be accepted if it is unwanted. It is the type of harassment where an employment decision for an employee is based on acceptance or rejection of unwelcome sexual behavior. An example of this is when you are fired because you refused to accept sexual advances from your employer. Learn more about quid pro quo harassment here.
Ultimately, contacting a sexual harassment lawyer can go a long way in helping you to have a profound grasp of your rights and protect yourself from all the adverse effects of sexual harassment.