California Sexual Harassment Workplace update
The Bill Cosby publicity & many others, have ignited the #MeToo movement, providing women with a forum grounded by social media sharing their sexual harassment abuses in the workplace.Sexual harassment and Discrimination are simply illegal under both Ca.state and federal law.Sexual harassment has a broad category of negative areas, from unwelcome conduct, lewd jokes, groping, and suggesting promises in exchange for sexual favors. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act bans sexual harassment in the workplace. Applicants, employees, independent contractors, unpaid interns, and those with which an employer has a professional relationship (such as clients and vendors) are all protected by this law.Under federal law, Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964 forbids sexual harassment. This law applies to companies with 15 or more employees.
SEXUAL HARASSMENT TRAINING . . . .
It is a requirement for California since 2005 for employers to provide training sexual harassment education and provide employees with the tools to prevent workplace harassment issues.This training ( 2 hrs. ),is required every two years for managers working for employers with 50 or more employees and independent contractors.Starting in 2019 all employees must receive preventive Harassment educational training.The training must take place within 6 months of being hired. SB 1343 which passed in Ca., Oct. 2018, changes existing training laws, & now requires employers with five or more employees to provide non-supervisory employees with a minimum of one-hour of Harassment prevention training every two years, in addition to requiring employers to provide two hours of the bi-annual management training for sexual harassment and bullying.
DIFFERENT CATEGORIES OF SEXUAL HARASSMENT IN CALIFORNIA . . .
Hostile work environment . . . .
Hostile work environment issues occur when an employee is subjected to frequent sexual comments, groping or unwelcome conduct, of a persistent nature. This may include off color jokes, offensive computer material, groping, and social media exploitation. One time events or isolated frequency, does not necessarily count as sexual harassment. The bottom line is that the abusive actions must be pervasive, frequent, and unwanted.
Quid pro quo . . . .
Quid pro quo typically occurs between a owner, or manager and the office employee. The manager may ask the hourly employee for sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits, such as promotions. This most frequently is between a person with business related leverage , or “power”, with a high level of influence, targeting and attempting to seduce ,or intimate a lessor employee. The Hollywood movie environment would be a perfect example, of this power structure.
CALIFORNIA SEXUAL HARASSMENT LIABILITY . . . .
Employees owners, or managers can initiate sexual harassment. If a workplace employee causes the sexual harassment, the employer will be held legally responsible, if the manager did not take immediate and appropriate action to remedy the situation.If the manager causes the sexual harassment, the employer faces strict liability under California law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allows the employer to escape liability if the following situations have occurred:
- No tangible employment actions were taken against the victim;
- The employer took reasonable and appropriate action to prevent and correct the abusive behavior.
- The victim, who had knowledge of the complaint process, and Ca. preventive training, did not take advantage of the complaint process and the opportunities available to correct the situation.
DAMAGES IN SEXUAL HARASSMENT CASES . . . .
In the perfect workplace, the employer will take a harassment claim seriously and work quickly to resolve it, which is certainly in the companies best interest.However, if the employer does nothing and the harassment continues, the environment may become so stressful, creating a “hostile work environment” , which multiplies the issues.The employee could easily suffer physical discomfort, and mental anguish from the harassment. It is quite possible that the employee could recover damages from the harassment endured, such as mental anguish, job loss, and lost wages. No employee should be afraid to come to work because of sexual harassment. A workplace with a “Zero Tolerance” for abuses is the only solution. If you are a victim of harassment, it’s important that you inform your manager, so that the appropriate steps can be taken to remedy the situation immediately.