Employers are strictly liable if managers or supervisors at any level of the organization engage in sexual harassment. This means that the company will be found responsible for harassment perpetrated by a supervisor even if the company was unaware that the sexual harassment was occurring. All an employee has to prove under these circumstances is that the harassment more likely than not happened — not that the company was aware of it and failed to stop it. Harassers may also be held personally liable for any type of harassment.
California law states that grounds for strict liability are present whenever a supervisor sexually harasses an employee or retaliates against an employee by firing, demoting or making unfavorable changes to the employee's work assignments. Additionally, even if no employment opportunity has been denied and no loss of pay or benefits has occurred, an employer may still be held liable for the harassment, and a victim may be entitled to monetary damages.
An employee will win anytime he or she can prove that severe or pervasive sexual harassment by a supervisor occurred and caused damages.
If a plaintiff can prove that severe or pervasive sexual harassment was perpetrated by a supervisor, the company is liable for compensable damages awarded against the company automatically. The plaintiff does not have to prove that the company was negligent or that the company did anything wrong directly.
Our lawyers obtained $1.95 million for a female employee who was sexually harassed by the plant manager of a large manufacturing company. The inappropriate comments and actions took place over several years. See more verdicts and settlements we have obtained for our clients.
For a free and confidential consultation about your case, call (510) 433-1000.
What If My Supervisor Did Not Sexually Harass Me Directly?
Your employer may still be liable for damages if a supervisor creates a hostile work environment that spawns sexual harassment or verbal abuse. A hostile work environment can involve other employees and any of the following:
- Employment discrimination based on gender, physical appearance or sexual orientation
- Comments about someone's body or sexual remarks
- Leering looks
- Offensive gestures or comments
- Derogatory or pornographic posters, drawings, pictures, emails or notes
- Unwelcome touching or grabbing
- Actions characteristic of stalking
Employers may also be held liable for sexual harassment perpetrated by co-workers.
Detrimental Effects Of A Hostile Work Environment
A hostile work environment involves a pattern of offensive conduct or an incident of extreme offensiveness (e.g., sexual assault, verbal abuse or quid pro quo harassment). If extremely offensive sexual conduct is initiated by a supervisor, its effect can be even more devastating. Such instances can lead to extremely adverse consequences, including lost productivity, resentment, depression, emotional distress and anxiety about job security.
Get Legal Help From An Experienced Sexual Harassment Lawyer
If you have suffered sexual harassment at work, one of our manager-employee harassment attorneys can advise you regarding your legal options.
Call Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP, at (510) 433-1000 or send us an email to schedule a free consultation. We represent workers throughout Northern and Southern California.
We do not represent perpetrators of sexual harassment or those who are accused of sexually harassing behavior.