Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that can create an unsafe and intimidating environment for employees. Recognizing and reporting sexual harassment is crucial in promoting a respectful and professional workplace culture, especially in a bustling and diverse city like Los Angeles. Here’s how employees can identify and take appropriate steps to report sexual harassment.
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What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment encompasses a range of behaviors that are sexual in nature and unwelcome. It can take many forms, including but not limited to:
- Unwanted physical contact or advances
- Suggestive comments or jokes
- Displaying sexually explicit materials
- Offering professional rewards in exchange for sexual favors (quid pro quo)
- Retaliation against someone who rejects sexual advances
Who Can Be Affected?
Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment regardless of their gender, sexual orientation, or position within the company. Harassers can also occupy any level of employment — from a colleague to a manager, or even a client or vendor.
Recognizing the Signs of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment is not always obvious, and recognizing it involves being aware of the subtleties of interactions. Signs may include:
- Repeatedly being the target of personal or intimate questions
- Noticing a coworker is being isolated or treated differently after rejecting someone’s advances
- Feeling uncomfortable or unsafe due to others’ comments or behaviors
Federal and California State Laws
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination and is unlawful in workplaces with 15 or more employees. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) provides even greater protections and applies to employers with 5 or more employees.
Most companies in Los Angeles have established policies that outline what constitutes sexual harassment and the protocols for reporting it. Familiarize yourself with your company’s policy to understand your rights and the reporting process.
How To Report Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The Los Angeles sexual harassment attorneys from Yadegar, Minoofar, & Soleymani LLP give you a step-by-step guide for reporting inappropriate behavior in the workplace:
- Contact Human Resources: HR departments are trained to handle these situations and can guide you through the process.
- Follow Company Procedures: Submit a formal complaint as outlined by your company’s policy.
- Document Everything: Keep a record of all incidents, including dates, times, and details of the harassment, as well as any witnesses.
If your company doesn’t address your complaints or if you feel uncomfortable reporting internally:
- California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH): They can help you file a complaint and conduct an investigation.
- Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC): They enforce federal laws and can be another avenue for filing a complaint.
It’s essential for employees in the Los Angeles workplace to understand their rights and feel comfortable reporting sexual harassment. By recognizing the signs and knowing the steps to take action, you can help create a safer work environment for yourself and others.