Every individual’s workplace should be a place where he or she can feel safe and respected. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. There are instances in which an employee might become a victim to unwanted sexual attention or actions from another individual in his or her place of work, whether that comes from someone in a management position or a regular co-worker. In those cases, the individual has become a victim of sexual harassment and should understand his or her rights for holding the aggressor or the employer liable for the negative effects of the harassment. When these victims take action against their aggressors, they have the potential of receiving financial compensation for their losses.

Sexual harassment is defined by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) as “unwanted sexual advances, or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” It can take many different forms and could also include gender-based harassment of a person of the same sex as the aggressor, as well as harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth or other related medical conditions. Some of the forms of sexual harassment listed by the department are described as the offer of employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors; sexual conduct in a visual form (such as the use of sexual gestures or a display of suggestive images); derogatory comments of a sexual nature; inappropriate physical contact; and other unwanted sexual advances. It is even considered sexual harassment when the victim is threatened or denied some type of employment benefit because he or she responded negatively to the sexual advances.

Employers are legally obligated to take actions to prevent sexual harassment or to respond to reports of such harassment in a fair and timely manner. They are required by law to inform their employees about the illegality of sexual harassment and options for victims through brochures, posters made available through the DFEH and –for companies with 50 or more employees—interactive training. Employers that either do not take these actions or do not immediately respond after receiving a report of sexual harassment can be held liable. They are also held strictly liable when the harasser was one of their supervisors or agents.

A few examples of compensation that could result from sexual harassment include damages for lost wages, emotional distress, expenses incurred on the victim because of the harassment, legal and administrative fees and punitive damages. The DFEH states that a victim could be entitled to financial compensation even if he or she did not actually suffer financial loss.

Taking Action After Sexual Harassment

Those who become victims of sexual harassment should immediately report the incidents to their employers. They should also not hesitate to contact an attorney who could possibly help them make sure the responsible parties are held liable. Sexual harassment can take a major toll on a victim’s emotional and mental well-being. It can also cause monetary loss if the victim decides to leave the job due to the offensive work environment, or if the harassment causes him or her to be denied access to certain employment benefits. Let a San Jose sexual harassment defense attorney help you attain the compensation and corrective action you deserve through a settlement or lawsuit.

Get started by calling me, Edward N. Ajlouny, Attorney at Law, for a free initial consultation. I am an experienced attorney who represents sexual harassment cases, along with cases related to criminal defense, domestic violence and personal injury. Contact me so we can set up a time to discuss your sexual harassment case and identify your best options going forward. You are not alone; my office is here to help and support you during this difficult time.