The Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 sharply regulates discrimination in America. Unfortunately, sexual harassment still occurs in workplaces in California. But they are ways you can protect your rights or even get the perpetrator punished.
Hostile work environment
A hostile work environment exists when sexually oriented comments, jokes or behavior interfere with an employee’s performance at the workplace. This form of mistreatment is solely based on a person’s gender or sex.
It’s important to illustrate how the perpetrator’s behavior was severe or pervasive, meaning their actions affected your ability to do your job well, or the level of harassment was so bad that it created an intimidating or offensive work environment. You must also show that your employer or supervisor is responsible for the harassment, either directly or indirectly. For example, if a client keeps making offensive remarks and the employer fails to address them, they are just as culpable.
Quid pro quo harassment
Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a supervisor or co-worker implies that if you do not perform a sexual act or give in to their advances, they will deny you benefits like a pay raise or promotion. Also, it is still harassment if you didn’t say “no” to their advances, maybe because of fear or because you felt like you had to agree due to the power dynamics between you and the perpetrator.
What to do when sexually harassed
If you feel like you’ve been subject to either one of these types of sexual harassment at work, it is important to document any evidence and report the incident immediately. This includes writing down any offensive comments the perpetrator made or compiling emails that could prove misconduct.
The next step would be to report the incident to your human resources department. They should investigate the situation and take disciplinary action if needed. If not, you may have to file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This agency will look at the evidence you’ve gathered, look for more and then file a case on your behalf to the California court of justice.
You should not tolerate sexual harassment in the workplace, regardless of the circumstances. You have rights that protect you, including laws against retaliation if you speak up.