2024 How to Prove Workplace Sexual Harassment in California?

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Workplace harassment might seem innocent at first, but it can be devastating for victims. Spending hours in the presence of a harasser can affect work performance, negatively impact a person’s mental health, and even cause feelings of unsafety. Though sexual harassment is more common for women, men are still often victims. However, because of gender stereotypes, men tend to underreport instances of sexual harassment.

Regardless of gender or that of your harasser, no one should suffer workplace harassment. However, determining proof that you were sexually harassed might seem daunting. If you are experiencing sexual harassment at work, a Glendale, CA, sexual harassment lawyer can protect you and help determine the proof you need for your case.

What Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents may not seem very serious, but they are often the start of much worse incidents of harassment. If these incidents become frequent or severe, then it’s time to contact an experienced California sexual harassment attorney.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) enforces laws against workplace sexual harassment. The DFEH operates under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), which mandates employers to proactively prevent and address harassment by providing training and implementing procedures to report incidents. The DFEH investigates complaints and can take corrective action against employers. They have a commitment to uphold anti-discrimination and harassment laws.

How to Prove Workplace Sexual Harassment in California

It can be difficult to prove sexual harassment in a court of law. There is a high burden of proof that plaintiffs have to meet in order to succeed in their sexual harassment claims. Here are some things you can do to keep evidence of what is happening to you:

Document Incidents

Be sure to maintain a comprehensive record of each incident. This is essential to building a strong case and establishing the facts. Keep a detailed record of:

  • Dates and times
  • Locations
  • People involved
  • Description of what occurred
  • List of witnesses

Detailed information enhances the credibility of your case and provides a clear overview of the circumstances surrounding the alleged harassment. Make sure your documentation is factual, objective, and detail-focused.

Save Communication

Save any emails, text messages, and written communication related to the harassment that can be presented to your employer, agencies, or legal team. This evidence not only reinforces the credibility of your claims but can also establish a timeline of the harassment.

Witness Statements

Often in employment law cases, the verdict is who a judge or jury believes, the alleged accused or the victim. If there is a witness who is willing to testify that they saw the harassment or sign a statement that they saw it, this can make a huge difference in the victim’s ability to prove their case. An advantage of having a witness statement is that witnesses are more credible; they usually don’t have anything to gain from testifying or providing a statement.

Of course, the most powerful witness statements are from previous victims of the harassment. Discuss with your attorney anyone who might have suffered similar instances of harassment and consider if anyone has recently left the employer over suspicious circumstances.

Medical Records

If you have experienced harassment that has resulted in physical or emotional distress and sought medical attention, those records can be used as proof in your case. Your medical records are protected by laws and regulations for patient confidentiality and privacy, so your consent to release them will be needed.

Understand Workplace Policies

Becoming well-acquainted with your company’s sexual harassment policies and procedures is a fundamental step in navigating and addressing workplace harassment effectively. Different organizations may have specific steps to follow, such as reporting to a supervisor, human resources, or a designated harassment officer. Understanding these procedures helps you adhere to the appropriate channels. However, keep in mind that harassment in the workplace is a legal issue. Determine if you have a case by discussing your situation with someone at our firm.

Retaliation Evidence

Record any instances of retaliation that may have taken place as a consequence of your report of the harassment, especially if the harassment has come from a superior or supervisor. Even if your harassment wasn’t from a superior, an employer might try to dissuade you from filing a complaint through retaliation. Such retaliations might include changes in job responsibilities, negative performance assessments, or other detrimental measures. Keep a record of any such evidence for your attorney.

There are other forms and types of evidence to prove you are a victim of sexual harassment. Your first step should be to contact an experienced sexual harassment lawyer to help you determine your next steps. Seeking legal advice and cooperating with investigations are important components of the process to address workplace sexual harassment.

FAQs About California Workplace Sexual Harassment Laws

What Qualifies as a Harassment Charge in California?

Harassment can take various forms, but to qualify as a harassment charge in California, the behavior must generally meet certain criteria. Punishable actions under California harassment laws include:

  • Inappropriate jokes, derogatory comments, and innuendos
  • Physical harassment, like unwanted touching or hitting.
  • Verbal threats, both implied and/or explicit
  • Visual harassment, like posters or signs
  • Aggressive or repeated requests for sexual favors
  • Showing discriminatory behavior based on protected characteristics such as age, disability, race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, religion, and marital or veteran status.

Can You Press Charges for Harassment in California?

In California, individuals who have experienced harassment can pursue various legal routes to address the issue. You may file a complaint with:

  • your employer
  • the DFEH
  • the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)
    Or take legal action.

Before taking any legal action on your own, it is smart to consult with a workplace sexual harassment attorney who can provide you with guidance.

What Protections Do I Have Against Retaliation for Reporting Harassment?

In California, individuals who report harassment in the workplace are protected against retaliation under both state and federal law. These laws are under the FEHA and include retaliation provisions and whistleblower protections.

How Long Do I Have to File a Complaint About Sexual Harassment?

The time limit for filing a complaint about sexual harassment depends on whether you are filing with a state agency or pursuing legal action.

  • If you file a complaint with the DFEH, you generally have one year from the date of the last alleged incident of harassment.
  • If you file a private claim, the deadline is generally two years from the date of the last incident of harassment.

In certain situations, the DFEH may advise pursuing legal action against your employer.

Maralle Messrelian of MM Law: Your Glendale Sexual Harassment Lawyer

If you’ve experienced workplace sexual harassment, pursuing legal action can hold your abuser accountable and bring you closure. At MM Law, Maralle Messrelian understands how devastating sexual harassment can be for victims. She can provide you with compassionate legal guidance, help you understand your rights, and assist in building a strong case. Contact our team to discuss your case.

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