Orange County Sexual Harassment Lawyer

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Orange County Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Orange County Sexual Harassment Attorney

An experienced Orange County sexual harassment attorney is a crucial asset for anyone who has been the victim of it. If you believe that you have suffered any form of sexual harassment at work, Aitken Campbell Heikaus Weaver, LLP, can help you determine your most viable options for addressing the problem. You may be entitled to various forms of compensation depending on the scope and severity of your experience, but navigating the complex legal proceedings that a sexual harassment case typically entails can be very challenging without an attorney’s help.

Our firm has years of professional experience in all aspects of California employment law, and we know the federal laws in place designed to protect employees from sexual harassment. If you are unsure how to proceed with resolving sexual harassment in your workplace, and holding an employer accountable, we are ready to assist you.

How to Identify Sexual Harassment in the Workplace in Orange County

Sexual harassment is an unfortunately pervasive issue across all industries in the United States. Despite numerous laws against sexual harassment at work at the federal and state levels, many people in Orange County and throughout California continue to experience various forms of sexual harassment, often without realizing their options for legal recourse against such mistreatment.

One of the most challenging aspects of sexual harassment claims in California workplaces is the fact that many people who experience sexual harassment at work do not realize that they have grounds for legal recourse. It’s relatively common for employees to endure various forms of sexual harassment, sometimes over long periods of time, without realizing that they can take action against such mistreatment.

What Is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Sexual harassment is a broad term that can include any type of unwanted verbal or physical attention based on the employee’s sex, sexual orientation, or perceived sexual orientation. Sexual harassment can manifest in various ways:

  • One of the most common forms of sexual harassment is “quid pro quo,” which loosely translates to “something for something.” An employer may offer to exchange job-related benefits for sexual favors, or they may demand sexual favors under threat of job-related penalties.
  • Repeated sexual advances can also qualify as sexual harassment. While it is relatively common for personal relationships to develop within workplaces that do not have anti-fraternization policies, if an employee is turned down for a date by a coworker, they should not press the issue.
  • Direct results for sexual favors or sexual activity also constitute harassment. Even if employees have previously engaged in consensual sexual activity, once such advances are stated to be unwanted, any further advances qualify as harassment.
  • Sexual harassment can also include adverse treatment of an employee based on their sexual preferences or perceived sexual preferences. California law bans the practice of showing preferential treatment to employees or harsher treatment of employees solely on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender expression.
  • Unwanted sexual communication can also constitute harassment, such as sexually themed jokes or commentary, asking direct sexual questions, or making sexual references in the workplace. This includes communication that has not been directed at the claimant. Once an employee has asked for any such behavior to stop, continuing in any way would qualify as sexual harassment.
  • Creating a hostile work environment on the basis of an employee’s sex or sexual orientation can also constitute sexual harassment. This may include displays of pornographic material in the workplace or exchanging sexually charged messages in group emails.
  • Sexual harassment can sometimes escalate to the point of sexual assault or sexual battery. Once an aggressor has reached the level of engaging in unwanted physical contact, the victim will not only have grounds to pursue a sexual harassment claim against the employer, but the aggressor can face criminal prosecution as well.

If you are unsure whether a recent experience at work qualifies as sexual harassment, seek legal counsel immediately. Gathering the necessary evidence to prove the truth of the situation can be incredibly challenging, and most people who experience sexual harassment at work are concerned about raising complaints, as they fear reprisals from their employers.

How Sexual Discrimination Can Lead to Harassment

There are many ways for sexual harassment to happen, some of which may not appear inherently negative at first. For example, while it is wrong and unlawful for an employer to engage in any negative treatment of an employee on the basis of their sex or sexual orientation, it is equally wrong and unlawful for an employer to show preferential treatment to employees on the same basis.

Sexual discrimination along these lines can eventually amount to harassment when it creates a hostile work environment for an employee or group of employees on the basis of their legally protected personal qualities. If you are unsure whether a recent experience at work qualifies as sexual harassment, it’s vital to speak with an Orange County sexual harassment attorney as soon as possible.

First Steps in Addressing Sexual Harassment at Work

It is illegal for an employer to penalize an employee in any way for engaging in a legally protected action. Filing a good-faith sexual harassment complaint is a legally protected action, and it is generally advisable to pursue internal conflict resolution channels in your workplace before proceeding with any formal legal actions in response to sexual harassment.

California law requires all employers to have anti-harassment policies in place as well as conflict resolution procedures. If you have been harassed by a coworker, you should raise the issue with your supervisor immediately. If you have been harassed by a supervisor or another individual with superior standing in your organization, you should take the issue to the next highest level of leadership.

When internal conflict resolution channels have failed, or if the harassment you experienced has reached the level of sexual assault, it is vital to consult an Orange County sexual harassment attorney as soon as possible.

Benefits of Working With an Orange County Sexual Harassment Attorney

When you have a seasoned Orange County sexual harassment lawyer representing you, it is easier for you to approach your case with confidence and peace. Aitken Campbell Heikaus Weaver, LLP, can provide compassionate legal counsel through all stages of your case, and we have a strong record of past successful cases to show our commitment to our clients’ success.

If you hire our team to represent you in a sexual harassment case, we can immediately begin by helping you determine what evidence you may need. This allows you to prove the truth of the situation and build your complaint. One of the biggest challenges many victims of sexual harassment face is the fact that their harassers typically take steps to conceal what they’ve done.

Our firm knows how to secure the evidence needed to substantiate a sexual harassment claim. This may include testimony from coworkers who have witnessed the harassment against you as well as past employees who have had similar experiences. Workplace security camera footage, internal emails, and other digital records could also help your case.

Success with a sexual harassment claim in Orange County will start with filing a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the federal agency in charge of handling all complaints of workplace discrimination and harassment in the U.S. We can guide you through this claim process and help you take the next steps in your case, once the EEOC concludes its investigation.

Filing an EEOC Complaint for Sexual Harassment in Orange County

You generally cannot proceed directly to filing a civil claim against an employer for sexual harassment in California. First, you will need to file a complaint with the EEOC. This complaint should include the details of the harassment you experienced and all supporting evidence you will need to make your case. Your Orange County sexual harassment attorney can help you compile any documentation you will need to submit with your complaint and guide you through the submission process.

Once the EEOC receives your complaint, it is required to respond within 180 days. An investigating attorney at the EEOC will be assigned to your case, and they will likely wish to speak with you about the situation in question. They are also likely to reach out to your employer, and any employer who refuses or fails to comply with an EEOC investigation faces severe legal penalties.

If you are worried about facing punishment from your employer due to your filing of a sexual harassment complaint with the EEOC, remember that filing this type of complaint in good faith is a legally protected action under federal law. If your employer penalizes you in any way for filing this complaint, this constitutes employer retaliation, and the employer faces additional penalties that can include very heavy fines and even criminal charges.

If the EEOC determines that you did indeed experience sexual harassment of any kind, they will notify you of this and provide a Notice of Right to Sue. This will enable you to proceed with a civil claim against your employer. In some cases, the EEOC itself will initiate legal proceedings against an employer on the claimant’s behalf.

Compensation for Sexual Harassment Claims in California

Once the EEOC has given its support for your claim, you can proceed with filing your sexual harassment claim against your employer. Your Orange County sexual harassment attorney can be an invaluable asset for these proceedings, as they can help you maximize your compensation.

The damages available in a sexual harassment claim largely depend on the employee’s preferences. For example, if an employee was forced to quit their job due to the harassment they experienced, they may seek reinstatement to their previous position, with specific conditions in place. Alternatively, they may have no desire to return to their previous position.

If the harassment you experienced caused any kind of economic damages, you can claim compensation for these losses in your civil claim. For example, if you lost your job due to sexual harassment, you could claim compensation for back pay and lost benefits. If you were passed over for promotion for a discriminatory reason, you may be able to claim compensation for the difference in pay.

Economic Damages From Sexual Harassment Claims

It is possible to collect compensation for additional economic damages, such as the cost of transportation and new job searches after losing your job due to sexual harassment. Additionally, experiencing sexual harassment at work is painful and traumatic, and state law allows the plaintiff to seek compensation for their pain and suffering.

Your Orange County sexual harassment attorney can help you claim compensation for the psychological distress you experienced from the defendant’s actions. If you were physically assaulted, you can also claim compensation for all related medical expenses. There is no limit on the amount of pain and suffering compensation you can win in a civil claim for sexual harassment, and your attorney can help you maximize this aspect of your recovery.

Punitive Damages for Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a violation of California and federal employment laws, so it is common for punitive damages to factor into plaintiff recovery in sexual harassment cases. Under California law, the amount that a plaintiff may receive in punitive damages in a sexual harassment case depends on the size of the employer:

  • If an employer has 15 to 100 employees, the maximum punitive damages the plaintiff may recover is $50,000.
  • When the employer has 101 to 200 employees, the limit on punitive damages increases to $100,000.
  • If an employer has 201 to 500 employees, maximum punitive damages are $200,000.
  • If the employer has more than 500 employees, the limit on punitive damages increases to $300,000.

Punitive damages have the potential to significantly increase your final case award. Additionally, it is possible for the judge handling your case to compel the defendant to pay your attorneys’ fees, so it may not cost you anything to bring your sexual harassment claim against them.

If a judge rules on your sexual harassment case, they may also impose additional civil penalties on your employer. Additionally, the EEOC may also implement penalties, such as:

  • Compelling the employer to develop a new anti-harassment policy
  • Refining their current conflict resolution procedures
  • Meeting any other requirements

Why File a Sexual Harassment Claim in Orange County?

Do not make the mistake of assuming that filing a sexual harassment claim in Orange County would be pointless. You have the right to a harassment-free workplace and the right to seek protection when that right has been violated.

Additionally, success with your sexual harassment claim may not only yield valuable compensation and prevent you from experiencing further mistreatment at work, but it may also potentially prevent others from facing similar issues in the future.

Ultimately, many of the fears that California employees have when pursuing their sexual harassment claims are unfounded. The right attorney can explain the details of your situation and help you more clearly understand all your options for legal recourse. With their assistance, it is possible to recover far more compensation than you may initially expect and hold an employer accountable for their violations of state and federal anti-harassment laws.

What to Expect From Your Orange County Sexual Harassment Attorney

Aitken Campbell Heikaus Weaver, LLP, can provide the comprehensive legal counsel you need to successfully navigate your impending sexual harassment claim. We know that the thought of filing a legal action against your employer may be daunting, but everyone working in California has the right to a workplace free of sexual harassment of all kinds.

Our team can help you gather the evidence needed to substantiate your case and guide you through the EEOC complaint filing process. If the EEOC requires additional information or if they need to speak with you, we can advise you through these interactions and verify that your case receives appropriate consideration at all times. Once you have the ability to move forward with your civil claim, we can provide detailed guidance so you know what to expect from these proceedings.

Experienced Orange County Sexual Harassment Lawyers

Many sexual harassment claims filed in California are settled outside of court. Employers will generally attempt to settle these claims as quickly and quietly as possible whenever they can to avoid damage to their public reputation. However, it is possible for a sexual harassment case to unfold in litigation, and your Orange County sexual harassment attorney can provide invaluable support in these proceedings.

In every case our team accepts, we clearly outline our client’s strategy and identify all complicating variables that might arise throughout their proceedings. We make our billing policy as clear as possible, and our firm can help our client secure compensation for their legal expenses whenever possible. Our goal for every client is to help them ensure accountability and secure compensation for the harassment they have experienced.

Anyone who has experienced any type of sexual harassment in their Orange County workplace is likely to have many pressing legal questions about their situation, and we are ready to provide the answers you need in this difficult time. If you’re ready to learn what an experienced Orange County sexual harassment attorney can do for you in your case, contact Aitken Campbell Heikaus Weaver, LLP, today to schedule your consultation with our team.

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