Can I Sue If I Was Punished For Reporting Sexual Harassment At My California Workplace?

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Tessa King - Employment Litigation - Super Lawyers

Answered by: Tessa King

Located in Sherman Oaks, CAReisner & King LLP

Sherman Oaks, CA
Phone: 818-981-0901
Fax: 818-981-0902

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Sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited by California and federal law. If you have experienced harassment from a manager, supervisor or co-worker, usually you must report the harassment to your human resources department or management. But if you have properly reported what happened and your employer fails to take sufficient action to stop the harassment and punish the offender(s), you may be able to recover substantial financial compensation through litigation. 

How To Combat Sexual Harassment

You are entitled to a workplace free of unwanted sexual advances, as well as sexually charged comments, jokes, emails, pictures and other things that create a toxic work environment. You also do not have to accept or tolerate quid pro quo offers from a manager of career benefits in exchange for sexual favors. If you have been sexually harassed, you need to collect and preserve as much evidence as possible. Keep copies of all offensive emails, text messages, pictures and voice mail messages. Also, keep written evidence of your interactions with human resources. The more proof you have of harassment and retaliation, the easier it will be for your attorney to make your case at trial. 

Available Remedies To Sexual Harassment And Retaliation

It is unfortunately common for victims of sexual harassment to report what happened, only for those in charge to “punish” them by demoting, reassigning or outright firing them. This is known as retaliation, and it is against the law in California. If this happened to you, you could be entitled to full compensation for the wages you would have earned had you not been wrongfully terminated, as well as lost future wages if you were not able to find a new job at the same income level. You may also receive compensation for your emotional distress and other negative effects of your experience. If your employer treated you especially badly, the court may award you punitive damages, which are intended to punish egregious behavior. 

Some victims would rather get their job back instead of pursue cash damages. A successful lawsuit might make this happen. However, this is an option only in certain limited circumstances. 

Every case is different, and the line between legitimate termination and retaliation is not always clear. If you were sexually harassed and/or retaliated against for reporting harassment, discussing your experience with an attorney experienced in California employment law can help you get a clear picture of your legal options. 

Disclaimer: The answer is intended to be for informational purposes only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, nor construed as a form of attorney-client relationship.

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