Sexual Harassment and Wrongful Termination: What You Need to Know
Excluding issues involving employer harassment, discrimination, retaliation, or other unlawful conduct, California operates as an “at will” state. This means that under California law, unless you have a contract with your employer, the employer can terminate you at any time, without warning, and for any reason. This also gives you the right to leave your job for any reason, at any time, and without prior warning. As stated, only unlawful reasons that violate established workplace laws as mentioned above provide an exception to this legal application in California.
Sexual Harassment: “Quid Pro Quo” vs. “Hostile Environment” Harassment
Sexual harassment can be carried out in varying forms. Both men and women can be the subject of sexual harassment in the workplace.
One form of sexual harassment that occurs in the workplace is referred to as “quid pro quo” harassment. This type of harassment occurs when a supervisor makes sexual conduct with an employee a condition of receiving tangible employment benefits. These benefits may include a promotion, increased salary, or even continued employment. This type of sexual harassment equates to a denial of an employment opportunity because it is based on the individual’s acceptance or refusal to engage in some form of sexual, intimate, or social relations with the supervisor. The essence of quid pro quo sexual harassment is that a supervisor relies on their authority to extort sexual conduct from an employee.
The other form of sexual harassment is referred to as “hostile environment” harassment. To become actionable, the harassment must reach a level of severity and pervasiveness that affects the conditions of the victim’s employment which result in an abusive or hostile working environment. The sexual harassment must be perpetrated in a manner that has the effect of interfering with the victim’s work performance or create a hostile, intimidating or offensive atmosphere in the workplace. Hostile environment sexual harassment can involve various forms of verbal and physical misconduct, which have the purpose or effect of creating a hostile or offensive working environment. The actionable misconduct may be committed by supervisors, coworkers or even nonemployees under certain circumstances.
If you believe that your employer has fired you illegally due to a sexual harassment complaint that you brought against a superior or coworker, it’s important to contact an experienced employment attorney. A strong legal advocate can help you file a complaint with the appropriate agency without unnecessary delay. Depending on the circumstances of your wrongful termination, you may need to file a complaint with either the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH), or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
No employee should have to suffer the loss of employment as a result of a legitimate claim of sexual harassment they file against a superior or another coworker for that matter. If you have been wrongfully terminated in California, our Los Angeles attorneys at Taylor & Ring can assert your rights and move forward to help you obtain the remedies you need under state and federal laws. We can fight to help you obtain the compensation you need for your losses, including front pay, back pay, other benefits, as well as emotional and punitive damages, and attorney’s fees. To set up a free, confidential consultation about your case, call our office at 310-776-6390 or complete our contact form.
David Ring is a nationally renowned plaintiff’s personal injury trial attorney and has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of seriously-injured individuals or families who have lost a loved one in a tragic accident. For more than 20 years, he has represented victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, assault, molestation and sexual misconduct in cases against a variety of employers and entities, including schools, churches and youth organizations.
He prides himself on providing aggressive, yet compassionate representation for children who have been sexually abused and women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Read more about David M. Ring.