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CA State & Federal Sexual Harassment Laws

Legal Counsel for Employment Law in Los Angeles

Knowledge is power and knowing your rights as an employee in California empowers you to protect yourself against sexual harassment. There are state and federal laws that protect employees from unwanted advances, comments, and touch from their associates and superiors at work. The team of sexual harassment attorneys at Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP provide comprehensive, experience-backed legal representation, pursuing justice for inappropriate behavior between supervisor’s and their subordinates through legal action.

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment?

Recent developments in sexual harassment law, sparked by influential public trials, changed the statute of limitations for reporting sexual harassment. In 2016, SB813 revoked the statute of limitations, effecting all cases other than retroactively removing the statute for cases that have already passed their time limit. If your life is affected negatively by someone’s behavior, or was in the past, and you are still affected by it, you have the right to seek outside help from your state or federal employment offices.

There are two basic legal definitions, or categories, of sexual harassment in California:

  1. An employment agreement or offer that is based upon an employee’s acceptance of a supervisor’s sexual advances is considered “quid pro quo” harassment.
  2. The other category, when an employee is subject to someone’s inappropriate and unwelcomed sexual conduct, physical or indirect, is called a “hostile work environment” or abusive work environment.

Circumstances that distinguish a quid pro quo sexual harassment situation include:

  • An employee is subject to unwanted sexual advances, demands, or comments.
  • The above advances came from a supervisor, either immediate supervisor or a supervisor with higher authority over the employee’s own supervisor.
  • If said employees does not submit to these advances, the supervisor took/takes tangible employment action as punishment or consequence including demotion, refusal of promotion, or firing said employee.

Circumstances that are considered a hostile work environment include:

  • An employee is subject to unwelcomed advances, comments, or conduct.
  • This advance is related to his or her sex.
  • The harassment is severe, perverse, or pervasive enough to constitute a hostile work environment.
  • The harassment is persistent rather than isolated incidents, trivial, sporadic, or random.

Based on the above descriptions, if you are dealing with conduct that could be considered quid pro quo harassment or a hostile work environment, you deserve to seek help. You have a right to stand up for yourself and to put a stop to this behavior.

Document Your Experiences of Sexual Harassment

As part of your preparation for reporting, or to keep track of what takes place, it is important to document the incidences of harassment.

Use the following guidelines for documentation:

  • Collect as much detailed information as possible about each incident including screen captures of text messages, emails, photos, notes, or cards you receive.
  • Photograph anything that is posted or public that you cannot collect as evidence if your case involves a hostile work environment (such as an offensive poster or wall graffiti) date stamp or take note of when the objects were photographed.
  • Keep a journal or list of incidents of harassment including names of those involved, names of witnesses, what happened and where it occurred. Note how the incident affected your mental and physical well being and if it inhibited job performance.
  • Make copies of performance reviews, evaluations, or other HR related documents before making a complaint, so that you have them in the case that your employer seeks retaliation or tries to alter them.

If your employer does not take the complaint seriously or dismisses the issue without acting, you can go to your state fair employment office or to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies may pursue a case on your behalf, depending on the circumstances. You must file a complaint with the EEOC before seeking a federal or civil lawsuit.

Sexual Harassment Lawsuits

Pursuing a lawsuit for sexual harassment is a brave and important undertaking, and it will be in your best interest to obtain the help of a qualified, compassionate sexual harassment attorney. At Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP, you can be sure that you have the guidance and support you need to feel confident in court. Our team will work with you to seek an outcome that tells your harasser that his or her behavior will not be tolerated, under any circumstances. When you need legal counsel you can count on, our attorneys are just a phone call or email away.


Contact our team at (213) 267-3640 to discuss your case.


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