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Walnut Creek Sexual Harassment Attorneys
Diligent Legal Advocacy in the Bay Area
No one should have to deal with sexual harassment of any kind, but the unfortunate reality is that hostile work environments remain a serious problem. Whether you have been made uncomfortable by a colleague, supervisor, or a company’s toxic culture, you should not have to suffer in silence.
Our Walnut Creek sexual harassment lawyers are prepared to stand up for you and fight to preserve your right to a safe work environment. Our experienced team at Ratner Molineaux can walk you through the process of filing a harassment claim and help you respond to any consequent discriminatory or retaliatory behavior. We have a strong track record of compassionately and aggressively representing clients in these cases and want you to feel comfortable with our approach. When you come to us for help, we will take the time to understand the specifics of your situation, outline your rights, and go to bat for you in and out of the courtroom.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in California?
Sexual harassment can take many forms. Some types of harassment will be blatant and obvious, while others will be subtler but still inappropriate and unlawful.
Types of sexual harassment that contribute to an unsafe work environment include:
- Sexually Inappropriate Jokes or Comments. This includes supposedly innocuous jabs at someone’s physical appearance, choice of clothing, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, and/or perceived promiscuity (or lack thereof). Sexual propositions made “in jest” are also extremely inappropriate.
- Inappropriate Physical Contact. Offering a high-five or shaking someone’s hand are generally acceptable forms of physical contact in the workplace, but unwanted hugs, kisses, or other types of touching are never permissible. No one should be touching you without your consent, even when the physical contact itself does not necessarily constitute sexual assault.
- Quid Pro Quos. A coworker, supervisor, or non-employee might offer to exchange career-based incentives or monetary rewards for sexual favors. For example, your boss could promise you a promotion if you agree to go on a date with them. These types of propositions are never acceptable.
Everyone should be able to earn a living without worrying about inappropriate comments, requests, or physical contact. If you are being subject to a hostile work environment or are being propositioned with quid pro quos, you likely have a sexual harassment claim. Take steps to protect yourself by thoroughly documenting each incident. Our Walnut Creek sexual harassment attorneys can assess your circumstances and help you review your legal options.
Filing a Sexual Harassment Claim in California
If you are ready to pursue a claim, you may need to first review your company’s official policy on sexual misconduct. It may be prudent in some situations to first file a complaint internally even if you are confident that your company’s HR department will be unhelpful. Failing to attempt to address the harassment internally could limit your ability to take future legal action against your employer.
Be aware that you cannot immediately file a civil lawsuit against an employer that has failed to address issues of sexual harassment. You must first file a claim with either the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or California’s Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH). In most cases, you will have 300 days to file a sexual harassment claim with EEOC or one year to file a claim with DFEH.
DFEH or EEOC will evaluate your complaint and may decide to conduct an investigation. Your employer will be required to respond to this investigation, and you will have a chance to review their response. If either government agency believes the law has been violated, they will generally initiate a mediation session between you and your employer. If your employer is uncooperative and an acceptable settlement cannot be reached, the government may elect to file a lawsuit on your behalf.
If the government decides there is enough evidence to prove that your employer may have broken sexual harassment laws, they will complete their investigation and typically serve you with a Notice of Right to Sue. You will have ninety days from the receipt of this notice to file a civil lawsuit in state or federal court if you filed with EEOC, and you will have up to one year to pursue legal action if you filed with DFEH. You will need to act quickly and consult a legal professional on how best to move forward.
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“David was patient and straightforward, bringing relief and encouragement at the right times during what could be a very complex and upsetting process.”- E.E.
Our Walnut Creek sexual harassment lawyers are ready to help you navigate filing a claim with the EEOC or DFEH. We can represent you throughout a government investigation and assist you with filing a civil lawsuit if doing so becomes necessary. Our team at Ratner Molineaux is not afraid to go to court to pursue what is in your best interest, and we are also ready to combat other forms of employer misconduct that could result from filing a claim, including unlawful retaliation and wrongful termination.