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Harassment Including Sexual Harassment & Racial Harassment

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It is illegal to harass an employee based upon the employee’s protected status. Such harassment is prohibited by Title VII and by California’s Fair Employment & Housing Act. Thus, if an employee is harassed due to the employee’s sex, gender, race, national origin, sexual orientation, marital status, age, pregnancy or disability, the employee may have a claim for unlawful harassment.

There are two general types of harassment: “hostile environment” and “quid pro quo.” Hostile environment claims are where the employee is harassed and this harassment reasonably interferes with the employee’s ability to perform her job or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. For example, a hostile environment sexual harassment claim may be one in which a female employee is subject to a daily barrage of sexual comments or other unwelcome sexual conduct.

In order to prosecute a hostile environment claim, courts require that the harassment be considered “severe or pervasive.” The term “severe or pervasive” can be interpreted by different courts in different manners, so if you believe you’ve been working in a hostile environment, it is important to obtain legal advice about your situation. The courts also generally look to whether the employer or someone in management knew or should have known of the harassment, as it is an employer’s duty to take all reasonable steps to prevent harassment from occurring.

Quid pro quo harassment claims are generally sexual harassment claims where an employer or boss demands sexual favors in order to get a job, keep a job, not get fired from a job, get a promotion, or obtain or lose some benefit of the job.

Siegel LeWitter Malkani has represented employees who are victims of sexual harassment, racial harassment and other illegal harassment since the firm’s inception. These cases include significant resolutions of harassment claims such as:

  • Representing a group of African American factory workers in a case against their employer for failure to protect them from racial harassment by their peers, including hanging of nooses in locker rooms, and generally turning the cheek to an offensive, hostile, demeaning and racist environment.
  • Representing a female janitor in a case for “sex based” harassment, where—as the only female employee—her male co-workers harassed her because they believed that this was “men’s work,” and that she was taking work from “men with families.”
  • Representing a bank employee whose supervisor requested that she accompany him on bank business, tried to initiate an extramarital affair with her, and, when she refused, found that her performance was now deemed to be substandard. The employee was finally forced to resign her employment in humiliation, constructively terminated from her job.
  • Representing an administrative assistant who was sexually assaulted by a doctor in a claim against the hospital that employed both of them, as well as the individual doctor. Siegel LeWitter Malkani was able to obtain an early and substantial settlement on behalf of the employee.

If you believe Siegel LeWitter Malkani could provide you with assistance regarding your sexual harassment, racial harassment or other type of illegal harassment claims, please contact the firm.

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