Stories of sexual assault and harassment have never been more prevalent. Claims of abuse are everywhere from the entertainment industry to the political landscape. Treating the topic seriously, taking the time to understand what sexual assault and harassment are, and how such acts can impact your business, may help to ensure that neither you, your company, or your employees, are put in harm's way.
What is Sexual Assault & Harassment?
Sexual harassment is considered to be any unwelcome sexual physical or verbal conduct in the workplace. Anyone can be a victim of this behavior, regardless of whether they are male or female. There are two types of sexual harassment in the workplace, quid pro quo, and hostile work environment.
Quid Pro Quo
Quid pro quo occurs when a person of power, generally a partner, manager, or supervisor, requires a person with whom they hold authority, to submit to their sexual advances by threatening that person with an adverse employment action such as demotion or termination. In other words, if the employee does not comply, their livelihood could be in jeopardy.
Hostile Work Environment
A hostile work environment is a type of harassment that does not necessarily require a threat of an adverse employment action. Instead, the harasser engages in unwelcome conduct, based on sex, which creates a workplace that is intimidating and/or offensive to the victim. This type of harassment does not require the harasser to be an authority figure and may take place among same, or lower-ranked, employees.
Sexual assault in the workplace can be present in any of the following forms:
- Physical force used as a means to make another person engage in a sexual act against their will
- A sex act committed against a person that is not mentally capable of understanding and/or consenting to the act
- Abusive touching
What laws pertain to Sexual Assault & Harassment?
Most California laws pertaining to sexual harassment in the workplace fall under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).
At the federal level, sexual harassment in the workplace violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments.
Title VII explicitly states that the victim does not have to be of the opposite sex for harassment to occur. Additionally, the victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the harasser's conduct.
California aims to prevent sexual assault and harassment in the workplace by utilizing FEHA to require certain employers to hold sexual harassment training. FEHA requires that employers with 50 or more employees provide two hours of sexual harassment training every two years to supervisory employees. Employers must also train new supervisors within six months of being hired.
Mohsen Parsa provides highly skilled and diligent representation for your employment law needs. Claims of sexual assault and/or harassment are serious and should not be taken lightly. Such conduct can not only negatively impact the people involved, but also your company. To make certain that your company is complying with the law, contact Mohsen Parsa today.