California Physical Sexual Harassment
Understanding Physical Harassment at Work
When you’re at work, it’s hard to give your best performance if you feel stressed out about your professional relationship with a supervisor, coworker, or employee. Physical harassment can damage your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. You can experience symptoms such as stress and anxiety or even develop a physical illness because you are subject to a hostile work environment.
Don’t let harassment affect you so much that it’s difficult to work. For example, you might not want to go to work if you believe that someone would continue to make unwelcome physical contact even though you take pains to keep your distance from that person.
You have rights under state law to work in a harassment-free environment. Physical harassment can constitute sexual and non-sexual acts, or just one of them. Under California law, that includes “physical conduct that a reasonable person would find threatening, intimidating, or humiliating.”
Understanding Civil Rights
Different statutes give protections to workers in the area of employment. In general, you could prepare a case for physical harassment at work because you are targeted under one or more protected categories.
Understanding Your Protected Status
In terms of physical harassment, this includes unwelcome physical aggression toward you. As a victim, you must also provide sufficient evidence that the conduct occurred, and that the conduct was enough to create a work environment that a reasonable person would find hostile or abusive. Often, it can prove hard to distinguish what constitutes unwanted physical harassment as opposed to an honest mistake or miscommunication. Some factors to look for include:
- 1. The frequency of the unwelcome conduct
- 2. The severity of the conduct
- 3. Whether the conduct was physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance
- 4. Whether the conduct unreasonably interfered with work performance;
- 5. The effect on the employee’s psychological well-being
- 6. Whether the harasser was a superior within the organization
How to Prepare a Physical Harassment Claim
Laws about a hostile work environment in California fall under the state’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. California law prohibits offensive conduct based on an employee’s actual or perceived sex or gender identity; actual or perceived sexual orientation; and/or pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. This definition includes many forms of offensive behavior. It includes gender-based harassment of a person of the same sex as the harasser, and actions that subject co-workers to a hostile work environment.
An attorney can help you sort through the facts and emotions, lending an objective eye to a situation that feels intensely personal to you. An attorney can also make suggestions for how to move forward while protecting yourself, your legal rights, and your career.
Get Immediate Legal Assistance
The first step is to speak with an attorney who understands California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act. A statute of limitations restricts how long you have to file your claim. Moving quickly ensures that you can preserve evidence and employ your right to sue under the statute of limitations.
You Aren’t Alone
It can intimidate anyone to come forward and accuse a supervisor or fellow colleague in your workplace of treating you unfairly by giving unwelcome physical contact based on a protected status. It’s understandable that you don’t want to stand out, become the subject of gossip or scandal, or see your privacy violated as you try to enforce your civil rights under California law. However, if you don’t come forward, then it’s impossible to hold your employer accountable—and your employer may allow the victimization of other employees.
Why Call an Attorney
Call an attorney to understand the best way to pursue justice in your case. If you were the victim of unwelcome physical contact, an attorney can help you decide if you have a claim.
Physical—Sexual versus Non-Sexual
Because some types of sexual harassment are non-physical in nature, and some types of physical harassment are not necessarily sexual, ask an attorney whether your potential case qualifies as physical harassment, sexual harassment, or both. To determine which type it is or if more than one type of harassment occurred, your lawyer will want to understand the specific types of unwelcome contact.
Contacting an attorney to ask if you have a physical harassment claim does not obligate you to hire that attorney. However, taking action quickly and retaining an attorney will guarantee that you are not alone in this process, that you can seek justice under California law, and that you can prevent other people from enduring similar harassment.