“Sexual Harassment” is defined by, but is not limited to communication (either written or verbal) in which a sexual pass or insinuation is made. These behaviors do not have to be explicit–even an implied sexual pass is sexual harassment if it is unwelcome.
In terms of the workplace, sexually suggestive verbal or physical behavior may be deemed harassment if it interferes with an employee’s employment status, ability to perform the job, or instills an unfriendly or threatening environment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace can occur by either a man or a woman, and the target does not have to be of the opposite sex. The offender can be a co-worker, a supervisor, or even a non-employee. Sexual harassment does not have to result in financial loss, such as discharge from employment, to be illegal.
No lawyer can give an opinion on a potential sexual harassment case without first examining the details of the situation, as many factors influence the ability to establish liability and damages. Many times, this goes beyond what sexual harasser said or did. Our role as your sexual harassment attorney is to get beyond stated explanations and unveil the real motivation behind a sexual harassment situation.
What qualifies as harassment?
In most cases, yelling, rude language, or unbalanced workload are not enough to deem behavior “unlawful” if caused by a personality conflict. In an employer treats all employees badly, irrespective of race, religion, sex, or age you may not have a harassment case. However, these behaviors may be considered illegal if the offender is driven by ill will toward you that is specifically derived from your race, religion, sex, or age.
We must advise you that “unwelcome” harassment is only considered unlawful if it is harsh enough to create an offensive work environment. Neither a minor offense or a solitary harassing incident may be considered illegal. As a rule, the more extreme harassment is (i.e., physical contact is always worse than vulgar language) the less often it needs to occur to be considered unlawful. If harassing behavior is less extreme, it must occur regularly. Because only “unwelcome” harassment is unlawful, you must make it clear to the harasser that the behavior is uninvited.
What are valid defenses to harassment charges?
There is a Statute of limitations that bars recovery if legal action isn’t taken within a specified period of time. This time period may vary by jurisdiction. Lack of adequate evidence or no proof will also bar recovery, as the plaintiff may not be a credible source. For this reason it is always best to have a witness who can verify the harassing behavior.
8880 Rio San Diego Drive, Suite 800
San Diego, CA 92108-1642
Banker’s Hill Associate Office
1901 First Avenue, Suite 138
San Diego, CA 92101
Downtown Associate Office
Of Counsel – Bill O’Connell, Esq.
110 West C Street, Suite 1300
San Diego, CA 92101-3978
Associates available 24/7.
Call (619) 583-0350 or send us an e-mail.