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Sexual Harassment Attorney in San Francisco

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Sexual Harassment Attorney in San Francisco

The 1960s musical comedy, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying features a song about sexual harassment. It’s called A Secretary Is Not a Toy and, sung by a crowd of leering men, essentially makes a joke of the whole concept of sexual harassment. Even recent versions of the show haven’t done much to clean up the concept.  

Make no mistake about it – sexual harassment violates the law. Whether it consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, the creation of a hostile environment, or any other form of verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature, sexual harassment is illegal. 

A woman can be a victim of sexual harassment committed by a man and a man by a woman. Both women and men can be subject to same-sex sexual abuse. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisory employee in another part of the company, a co-worker, or even a non-employee who spends time on the employer’s premises, like an independent contractor. 

The harassment victim isn’t always the person at whom the jokes or misconduct are directed. Rather, the harassing conduct may be so cringe-making or painful to watch and hear that it creates a hostile environment in the workplace, making other employees uncomfortable. This kind of sexual harassment is hard to define, but it is not uncommon and can result in significant liability for an employer who tolerates it.  

To recover for sexual harassment, you do not have to prove that the harassment resulted in an economic injury or adverse employment action against you. 

The harasser’s conduct, importantly, must be unwelcome. If you solicit or welcome the sexual attention, or attempt to take advantage of an offer to exchange favors, you are not a victim of harassment. But if you do not seek the contact and have told the harasser to stop, the contact is unwelcome and therefore constitutes sexual harassment. 

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Sexual harassment can be quid pro quo (Latin meaning “this for that”). In other words, the harasser says, give me this sexual favor, and I will give you, for example, a promotion. In essence, your acceptance or rejection of sexual attention is now the basis for employment rewards or penalties. You do not have to suffer an actual adverse employment action for there to be harassment. The threatening offer of an exchange is sufficient by itself. Even a single instance of quid pro quo harassment can be a cause for legal action. 

Hostile Environment Harassment

A hostile environment is hard to define but relatively easy to recognize. It occurs when unwelcome sexual conduct interferes with someone’s ability to do their job or creates a hostile, scary, or offensive workplace. There doesn’t need to be adverse economic consequences; the uncomfortable atmosphere alone constitutes the harassment. Generally, to make a successful claim of hostile environment harassment, you will have to prove that your employer knew or should have known about the harassment and that the employer didn’t do anything to stop it. 

Your employer can be liable for a hostile environment created by a supervisor, non-supervisor, customer, or independent contractor, so long as the employer knew about the ongoing misconduct and failed to act. An employer knows or should have known about the hostile environment when:

  • Someone complained to management
  • Management failed to create and enforce a policy against sexual harassment
  • Harassment is openly practiced at the company or well-known as tolerated by management 

Contact a San Francisco Harassment Attorney

If you believe you were a victim of sexual harassment in San Francisco, you should take action on your claim as soon you can. Contact a sexual harassment lawyer or call the law offices of Jeannette Vaccaro at 415-444-5800 today for a free consultation and case evaluation. We can help you in deciding how to respond to the situation in your workplace.

Think You May
Have A Case?

Jeannette is passionate about employee rights. She fights to shed light on injustices and to help her clients move beyond troubling times. Contact Jeannette today for a free case evaluation.

Jeannette A. Vaccaro is a Passionate and zealous advocate, representing employees in all facets of employment law.

Think You May Have A Case?

Jeannette is passionate about employee rights. She fights to shed light on injustices and to help her clients move beyond troubling times. Contact Jeannette today for a free case evaluation.

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