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San Diego Sexual Harassment Attorney

Sexual harassment cases can be complex and challenging to raise and handle, as well as potentially traumatic for the injured party. Sexual harassment at work can arise in many different forms such as unwelcome sexual advances, a sexually charged working environment, inappropriate behavior on the part of managers or other employees, and any other explicitly sexual conduct that adversely affects a person’s right to work safely.

While sexual harassment cases are most commonly filed by women, sexual harassment also impacts men and Trans individuals who closely identify with the LGBT community.

Some employees believe they have no recourse because they are afraid of being fired if they complain. In some cases, an employee is harassed by the business owner or a manager who makes salary and termination decisions, which makes it seem even more difficult to stand up to the harasser. The fear of losing a job, being demoted, or being fired can paralyze a person’s ability to put the harassment to an end or complain to management.

There are a number of laws designed to protect you from such unwanted treatment. Our San Diego sexual harassment lawyers will vigorously fight for victims who have been harassed and neglected by their employers. If you have been sexually harassed, forced to work within a hostile work environment or otherwise suffered due to inappropriate sexual conduct or comments within the workplace, Walker Law is here to help.

What Actions are Considered Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment includes any unwanted sexual advance, request for sexual favors or acts, or any other sexually motivated verbal or physical behavior. To be considered sexual harassment, the behavior must have an impact on an individual’s employment, unreasonably interfere with their performance, or create a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment. Some examples of workplace sexual harassment include:

  • Jokes about an employee’s sexuality
  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Comments questioning an employee’s sexuality
  • Comments that are homophobic or transphobic
  • Requests for sexual favors or acts in exchange for monetary compensation (sometimes called quid pro quo)
  • Solicitations for sexual favors
  • Unwelcome touching or contact
  • Sexually suggestive language or actions
  • Displaying sexual content on computers, phones, tablets, etc.
  • Sexually motivated verbal harassment

Sexual harassment does not have to be only in-person. The use of text messages, social media posts, voicemail, or email can also be forms of sexual harassment.

How Common Are Sexual Harassment Claims?

Sexual harassment in the workplace is unfortunately common and can understandably make working conditions extremely unpleasant. Over 13,000 sexual harassment complaints were filed with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) in 2004. As a result of those charges, victims of sexual harassment received over $37,000,000 in compensation.

Although the majority of sexual harassment cases involve men harassing female employees, nearly 15% of those charges were brought about by men, indicating that sexual harassment in the workplace is common for both men and women.

The Responsibility Of Employers

Employers have a legal obligation to provide a safe working environment free of harassment for all employees. When faced with allegations of workplace harassment, an employer is expected to act quickly and with legitimate actions. Employers in California can be found responsible for workplace harassment, even if they had no knowledge of it and were not at fault.

Employers are expected to implement anti-harassment initiatives and take reasonable steps to correct harassment. While proactive measures such as management training or policies may work in an employer’s favor, actions such as not having a way to report to management, burying any allegations, or protecting harassers with non-disclosure agreements are all evidence against the employer.

Employee Rights in the Workplace

In San Diego, employees have various rights to protect themselves from workplace sexual harassment. These rights include the following:

  • The right to workplace safety: Employers should ensure that employees can work in an environment that is safe and free of sexual harassment.
  • The right to report harassment: Employees must be encouraged to report sexual harassment to their employer or the human resources (HR) department at work. Employers are to investigate the complaints and take them seriously promptly.
  • The right to confidentiality: Employees who come forward about being sexually harassed have the right to privacy. Employers are required to take measures to maintain the privacy of the employee who has been brave enough to report being harassed.
  • The right to be free of retaliation: Piggybacking on the right to confidentiality, employees who are speaking up about being harassed must be free from retaliatory measures. The employer must not pursue revenge on an employee who comes forward. If they do, the employee may be eligible for legal recourse.
  • The right to legal action: Employees experiencing sexual harassment are entitled to take legal action. These employees may file formal complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
  • Right to accommodations: Employees have the right to be transferred to a different position or department within the business if they have experienced sexual harassment.
  • Right to training: Employers must provide education about sexual harassment prevention and response to employees. Employees must be informed of their rights in case they face sexual harassment.

If you surmise that you are being sexually harassed, it is important to understand your specific rights. Some of these will be determined by the specifics of your case. You should contact an experienced sexual harassment attorney for guidance when your rights are being violated.

Damages Suffered by an Employee Due to Sexual Harassment

There are monetary damages that a victim of sexual harassment in a San Diego workplace may be entitled to receive. The damages they may seek can be economic, noneconomic, or punitive.

Economic Damages Occurring Due to Workplace Sexual Harassment

Listed below are some of the damages incurred by employees dealing with sexual harassment:

  • Lost wages occur when the victim takes time away from their job or is fired due to the harassment. The employee may be entitled to reimbursement for the wages they lost.
  • Medical expenses can mount quickly, and if the victim’s sexual harassment caused them to suffer physical or emotional harm, they are within their rights to ask for compensation for the expenses they incurred during treatment or therapy.
  • Rehabilitation costs should be recovered if the victim of sexual harassment needs specialized care due to their mistreatment. The expenses of their treatment is a possible monetary damage they should seek.
  • Out-of-pocket expenses related to the sexual harassment claim, like the costs associated with reporting the harassment, are damages the victim may be entitled to.
  • The victim may be eligible to recover the benefits they lost due to the harassment. This could apply to retirement benefits, health insurance, or other equivalent losses.
  • When the employee’s earning abilities are compromised by the harassment, they can be compensated for the economic losses they will sustain in the future, like wages or benefits they would have potentially earned had they not been subjected to the harassing behaviors.

Consult with your San Diego Sexual Harassment attorney at Walker Law to verify what economic damages you may be entitled to following the incident in your workplace. The case’s specific circumstances will dictate which damages you are eligible to receive.

Non-Economic Damages Suffered Due to Sexual Harassment

Non-economic damage refers to intangible losses more difficult to place a monetary value upon. Possible non-economic damages that you may have sustained are listed below:

  • Emotional distress is very often experienced by victims of sexual harassment leading to depression, anxiety disorders, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Compensation may be available and is awarded based on the impact the harassment had on their lives, the duration, and the severity of the harassment that they withstood.
  • Pain and suffering damages may be available to the victim depending on the physical and emotional pain that being harassed caused them to struggle with due to their sexual harassment.
  • The humiliation and embarrassment of being victimized by a sexual harasser are painful and unjust. If the claimant has experienced this, they may be awarded compensation.
  • Sufferers of sexual harassment may experience a loss of enjoyment of life due to their foul treatment in the workplace. They may be likely eligible for recompense.
  • Damages may be owed to the victim if their reputation has been harmed due to sexual harassment. This workplace misconduct can harm the victim’s personal and professional standing.
  • Another potential non-economic damage is the loss of consortium. This may be owed to the victim’s spouse or partner if their relationship has been negatively impacted and they have a loss of companionship, intimacy, or love due to the injuries sustained by being sexually harassed at work.

Victims of sexual harassment should speak with an experienced lawyer to determine how to quantify their damages best to receive the maximum compensation they are entitled to.

Punitive Damages for Victims of Sexual Harassment

It is possible to seek punitive damages in a sexual harassment case in San Diego. These damages seek to punish the perpetrator and discourage future sexually harassing conduct. Punitive damages are awarded on top of compensatory damages that cover the economic and non-economic compensation the victim is entitled to. These damages seek to punish the perpetrator and discourage future sexually harassing conduct.

These damages serve as a punishment and a deterrent for particularly egregious, intentional, or reckless conduct. The victim is required to demonstrate that the defendant’s employer was aware of their actions and should have taken adequate measures to prevent it. The amount awarded in San Diego will vary depending on the duration of the harassment and the severity of it.

California’s economic cap on punitive damages is typically equal to the compensatory damage award. It is essential to consult with your sexual harassment lawyer in San Diego to determine whether your case has the potential to be awarded punitive damages.

Recovery in Sexual Harassment Claims

In cases of workplace harassment and a hostile work environment, some forms of recovery include:

  • Wages and lost benefits
  • Compensation for lack of job opportunities or promotions
  • Emotional distress experienced as a result of the harassment
  • Legal fees

An employer that acts maliciously or attempts to cover up workplace harassment can trigger recovery for punitive damages. These penalties are intended to punish the employer for knowingly permitting or endorsing illegal behavior and is reserved for only the most seriously offensive cases.

Statute of Limitations

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act used to have a one-year statute of limitations for filing a claim. A dissatisfied employee had one year under FEHA to file a charge with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing. An employee had an additional year after receiving a right to sue letter to file an action in court.

In 2019, Assembly Bill (AB) 9 was passed providing three years to file a FEHA complaint to obtain a right to sue letter. Essentially, this means that the statute of limitations for most sexual harassment claims in California is now three years.

How We Approach Sexual Harassment Claims In San Diego

Whether you continue to work in a sexually charged or otherwise hostile working environment or have left a job as a result of the same, you have the right under California law to seek recourse.

Walker Law will fight in your corner and do everything in our power to ensure that the situation is redressed and that you are compensated fairly. We understand these cases are often very sensitive in nature and emotional for the victim. Our team takes privacy seriously and will work with you every step of the way to ensure you are comfortable with the way the case is being handled.

San Diego Sexual Harassment Claims We Handle

We provide a free case evaluation and can help with all sexual harassment claims in the San Diego area, including:

  • If you have been subjected to inappropriate language, comments or behavior of an overtly sexual nature in the workplace.
  • If you work within a hostile environment due to sexually charged or inappropriate workplace behavior.
  • If you have been denied a promotion or other benefits due to rejection of unwanted sexual advances.
  • If your employer has not or will not intervene to prevent or end sexual harassment.
  • If you have been physically attacked or threatened within the workplace.
  • If another person in your workplace touches you inappropriately or behaves towards you in a sexually threatening manner.

If you believe that you or a family member has been sexually harassed in the workplace, you should speak with a lawyer as soon as possible. It’s important to act as fast as possible to ensure you have adequate time to file your case. If you need support, assistance, or guidance with any sexual harassment claim in the San Diego area, do not hesitate to contact us.

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