Managing Sexual Harassment Claims at Work
When an employee reports sexual harassment at work, employers have an ethical, moral, and legal right to act immediately. Upper management is legally obligated to investigate whether they believe the claims were true. If sexual harassment is not addressed and resolved promptly, it can hurt employee morale and increase the employer’s chance of getting sued.
Federal and state laws prohibit California employers from engaging in forms of harassment and workplace discrimination against employees. Specifically, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act primarily protects against sexual harassment. When an employee feels their rights have been violated at work, they will call upon an employment attorney in Los Angeles.
The EEOC’s Definition of Sexual Harassment
When most people think of sexual harassment, it is limited to interactions between male managers and female employees. According to a workplace lawyer in LA, this is a false misconception. Harassment can occur between anyone associated with the company:
- Coworker harassment.
- Subordinate harassment of an employer.
- Male employees getting harassed by women.
- Female employees getting harassed by men.
- Same-sex harassment.
- Third-party harassment.
Sexual harassment can happen anywhere, and when it does, it is not always about sex. Instead, look at it as a moment in which the harasser acted hostile or abused their power. As a result, the job site may develop an unfriendly and uncomfortable environment. In turn, that will cause employees to feel hesitant about speaking up about their harasser or misconduct.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission categorizes sexual harassment a few ways:
- Unwelcome sexual advances.
- Demands for sexual favors.
- Verbal and physical harassment of a sexual nature.
The law does not disallow teasing, jokes, or thoughtless comments because they seldom carry enough weight for a lawsuit. When it turns into a frequent occurrence, that is when employees should report the harasser to a supervisor or human resources. An attorney for sexual harassment claims may also get involved when an employer fails to intervene.
Strategies for Prevention
To avoid having to retain a workplace harassment attorney in Los Angeles there are many things that you should do to handle a complaint and prevent future occurrences from occurring at work.
- If an employer hears rumors of sexual harassment, they must investigate it if it were a formal complaint. Although Human Resources (HR) is not an integral part of every company or small business if applicable employers should file a report directly through the office. Additionally, employers should be prepared to answer questions regarding sensitive and confidential matters.
- Before filing a complaint, make sure that all employees are informed of the organization’s policy regarding sexual harassment. It should be clear that harassment will not be tolerated and is subject to an investigation with pairing consequences.
- Sometimes there is a misunderstanding between an employee and employer. Provide different ways an employee can make a formal complaint. Solely reporting to a manager or supervisor limits their options – and is why many turn to a lawyer for sexual assault in the workplace—perhaps offering alternatives channels between the CEO, president, or company owner.
- Assign HR to the case! HR managers have a firm understanding of the organization, its employees, and company history. It will allow an employer to plan out an investigation carefully.
- While discussing with the employee, reiterate that they are safe from retaliation, and they made the right decision by reporting the incident. Employees hesitate to come forward due to the fear of losing their career, benefits, and income. When a member of upper management retaliates against an employee, it goes against California Labor Code section 1102.5.
- As an employee discloses information about what took place, listen, and take notes. Make sure to highlight relevant information like harasser(s), dates, times. It will be useful during the internal and external investigation process.
- Similarly, interview the accused harasser. Apply the same strategy and approach when hearing their side of the story. Failing to do so will come across as a form of unintentional retaliation and can result in a lawsuit.
- Employers should consider retaining a Los Angeles attorney for sexual misconduct to ensure they are assessing the situation without bias. Simply reaching out for legal advice will make a significant difference.
Sexual Harassment Training in California
Part of being an employer or manager is recognizing that there is no right way or perfect way to investigate sexual harassment claims. Assisting with a thorough investigation and providing an appropriate response to misconduct is enough.
Additionally, California law requires employers with more than 50 employees to provide two hours of sexual harassment training every two years. To make sure that no further sexual harassment incidents happen, educate upper management so they can be well-versed in the law and know what to do when an employee addresses their concerns. If, for example, an employer gets falsely accused of harassment, being able to show that the preventative measures were taken can help. When in doubt, reach out to our trusted attorneys at Mann & Elias.
About Mann & Elias
The Law Offices of Mann & Elias is an employment law firm that provides guidance and legal support for individuals facing issues in the workplace. We represent clients at every level of the state and federal court systems in lawsuits regarding discrimination, wrongful termination, unpaid wages, and more. When your case is in our hands, we hope to minimize stress and concerns associated with work.
Workplace disputes and negotiations can be complicated and uncomfortable between an employee and employer. In many cases an employer can retaliate, causing individuals to feel that they are at a great disadvantage in the company. When you retain one of our lawyers, you will be well-protected and advised. While there are thousands of lawyers to choose from, we strongly believe our success is based on:
- 50+ years of trial experience
- Excellent advocacy skills
- Intense preparation and research
- Quality care
Since our partnership began over 20 years ago, we have settled hundreds of claims, completed 100 jury and bench trials, and recovered more than $18 million in settlements. In the end, our goal is to understand what you need and achieve the best outcome for you by focusing on those needs. For dedicated representation with no upfront fees, give us a call at 323-866-9564 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.