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When is an employer liable in a sexual harassment claim?

Sexual harassment is a hot topic of conversation today. This is true in California and across the country with a large number of people alleging it is happening and disagreements as to how it should be dealt with. People should be allowed to go to their job without having to deal with lewd comments, seeing inappropriate materials, or having to face other behaviors that will make them a victim of harassment. Even with that, it can be confusing as to when an employer is liable under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Knowing this can help when considering a sexual harassment claim.

Under FEHA, it does not matter how many employees are working at a job – all are protected from harassment. In general, employers will be liable for any harassment that is committed by agents or supervisors. In addition, those who are committing the harassment, regardless of their position, can be held liable on a personal basis for the behavior if they have committed it or if they are viewed as having aided and abetted it. California law also compels employers to take steps to stop harassment from taking place. If these steps are not taken, the employer can be considered liable.

With the employer’s liability, the victim has the right to seek damages in spite of there not being the denial of an employment opportunity or no loss in benefits or pay. If the employer knew or should have known that a person who is not an employee, such as a customer or client, was committing sexual harassment against an employee, a person applying for work or someone who provides services, and the employer does not take steps to prevent this, this could also result in employer liability.

A person in San Diego who is subjected to harassment at work needs to know these important aspects as to when the employer is liable when considering a legal filing. Discussing the case with an experienced attorney can answer all of the questions that will come up when there is sexual harassment happening on the job.

Source: dfeh.ca.gov, “Sexual Harassment — The Facts About Sexual Harassment — Employer Liability,” accessed on Sept. 6, 2016


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