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Sexual Harassment Attorneys in Santa Barbara, California

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Are you a victim of social harassment in Santa Barbara? Do not make the mistake of ignoring it, cutting your losses, or moving on. Sexual harassment by managers and coworkers is illegal in California, and you can take legal actions to right these wrongs.

In this guide, we help you understand more about sexual harassment in the workplace. Read on to ensure you maximize your chances of getting a fair settlement or judgment.

What is Sexual Harassment in Santa Barbara, California?

Like most states, sexual harassment is considered a violation of the law in California. All sexual harassment acts and types are prohibited by California law. Equally, employers are required to train supervisors on ways to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace.

According to the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, employment sexual harassment occurs in two ways: quid pro quo and hostile work environment harassment. Here is a look at each to get you started:

Quid Pro Quid – Something for Something

The most common type of sexual harassment in the workplace is referred to as quid pro quid harassment. It happens when a harasser uses their authority to request sexual favors from the victim. In most instances, the person being harassed is at risk of losing their job.

Examples of this type of sexual harassment in the workplace include the following:

  • The owner of a company offers an employee a promotion if they engage in sexual conduct
  • A manager promises to increase the pay of a subordinate employee for sexual favors
  • A scheduling supervisor cuts an employee’s hours for declining their sexual advances
  • A manager decides to fire an employee for refusing to engage in sexual conduct

As seen from the above examples, quid pro quo only occurs when the other person is in a position of power over the victim. Therefore, the most common culprits include managers and supervisors. Coworkers demanding sexual favors from their equals is not regarded as quid pro quo harassment. Instead, California law classifies it as creating a hostile work environment.

Hostile Work Environment Harassment

Contrary to what most people think, sexual harassment in the workplace doesn’t have to come from a person with authority. It can also stem from clients, coworkers, and people associated with the business or employer. Instead of threatening your job, harassers create a hostile work environment by engaging in unwelcome conduct – based on sex.

Although the conduct is often targeted towards a specific individual, it doesn’t always have to be. For instance, an employee may be posting pictures that colleagues find to be offensive. Here is a look at the elements that must be met for there to be a hostile work environment:

Unwelcome Conduct

Conduct is considered illegal if it is unwelcome. Even when the sexual harassment victim plays along, the conduct remains a form of harassment if they find it unwelcome. This is because employees often feel they need to ‘consent’ for fear of becoming unemployed.

A victim seeking legal action must have found the conduct unwelcome, to begin with. It can be difficult to prove a sexual harassment claim if the victim readily participated in the sexual conduct. For instance, how do you prove certain jokes were unwelcome when you readily participated in telling sexually inappropriate jokes?

Pervasive or Severe

According to California Law, sexual harassment creates a hostile work environment through pervasive or severe conduct. This means severe acts such as physical assault are considered sexual harassment when they happen once. However, daily offensive comments need to occur multiple times for it to be considered sexual harassment.

Based on Sex

When most people think of sexual harassment, they picture a male subjecting a female to sexual advances. In reality, however, harassment covers much more than that. Any conduct based on ‘sex’ – meaning gender – falls under workplace harassment.

Therefore, the conduct must not be sexual to constitute harassment. A male employee can create a hostile work environment by hiding equipment from female employees. This is because he is bullying female coworkers based on gender.

What is the Difference Between Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment?

Sexual assault occurs when an individual forces themselves on an unwilling party through incapacitation, violence, or coercion. Sexual harassment, on the other hand, includes several acts that occur in the workplace due to employment dynamics. If you have been a victim of sexual assault, ensure you contact our attorney at to get the justice you deserve.

How Does Liability Work in Santa Barbara, California sexual Harassment Cases?

The individual that commits sexual harassment will have an impact on liability. While the specific harasser is liable for their actions, some circumstances will make the employer responsible as well.

Employer liability

An employer becomes liable for sexual harassment when they or a supervisor committed the harassment. Under California law, the employer is regarded as the responsible party whether or not they knew the harassment was ongoing. Equally, the employer stays responsible despite trying to take corrective action to remedy the situation.

As stated earlier, employers are legally required to teach employees appropriate workplace conduct. Companies, therefore, must have a sexual harassment policy in place to ensure employees understand their rights – including ways to deal with harassment.

Employer Liability in Harassment Cases Involving Coworkers and Third Parties

The employer may become liable when a third party or coworker harasses an employee. However, the sexual harassment case must meet the following criteria:

  • The employer might have known or should have known about the harassment, and
  • The employer did not take corrective steps

The court will hold the employer responsible due to negligence if the case meets these two requirements. If the company becomes aware of the situation and took corrective action, it will not be found liable.

Let Us Help

Are you a victim of sexual harassment? The Santa Barbara, CA employment law attorneys of are here to help. We understand the need of ensuring the harasser doesn’t harass others in the future. Ensure you contact us today to discover how you can move forward.