Accomplished Oakland Sexual Harassment Lawyers

Experienced attorneys defend California employers facing complaints

Sexual harassment cases are often nuanced and complicated, requiring careful analysis and vigorous defense. Since 1998, the California employment attorneys at Bay Oak Law in Oakland have worked to protect the rights of Bay Area employers facing harassment allegations. We are skilled at marshaling and evaluating evidence to determine the course of action that best serves your business interests, including mediation or arbitration of claims. When litigation becomes necessary, we provide insightful, cost-effective counsel while taking the steps necessary to protect your interests.

Types of sexual harassment

Employers are liable for sexual harassment committed by supervisors and agents. If an employee reports harassment, managers and human resources officers should work to remedy the alleged issue promptly before it turns into a bigger problem. If the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) believes an employee’s complaint has merit, the DFEH might issue a right-to-sue letter or launch an investigation. Our employment lawyers counsel our business clients on how to respond effectively in situations stemming from allegations involving one of the following types of sexual harassment:

  • Hostile work environment — Persistent harassing behavior, whether it involves touching, suggestive language, romantic requests or other misconduct of a sexual nature, can leave an employee feeling that workplace conditions have become oppressive.
  • Quid pro quo — This form of harassment involves an executive, manager or supervisor’s attempt to trade job benefits or perks for sexual favors. Alternatively, the worker might be threatened with firing, demotion, fewer hours or less desirable duties if they refuse to comply.
  • Hiring, promotions or payment — California businesses cannot make employment or compensation decisions influenced by an employee’s gender, sexual orientation or marital status. One example of unlawful conduct is when a woman is passed over for hiring or promotion because the decision-maker believes she might become pregnant and miss work.
  • Retaliation — It is illegal to discipline or to take any other adverse action against an employee for reporting sexual harassment or participating in an investigation.

We provide strategic counsel throughout the investigatory process. If claims proceed to litigation, we work to achieve a just resolution

Common scenarios in sexual harassment cases

There are countless types of workplace encounters that constitute sexual harassment. One common example of quid pro quo sexual harassment involves a manager who pressures an employee into going on a date with them by promising them job benefits if they agree or threatening adverse action if they refuse. Even if the alleged harasser is not the employee’s direct supervisor, there could be a finding of sexual harassment if they hold a superior position at work. Hostile work environment claims are even more varied and often require a thorough review regarding workplace culture and relationships. The alleged harasser need not rank above the victim. A co-worker or even a frequent customer who makes sexual comments, shows explicit photos or makes unwelcome contact can be sufficient to establish a hostile work environment under the law. It is also important to remember that sexual harassment can exist regardless of the gender or sexual preferences of the parties involved.

Helping businesses comply with anti-harassment training requirements

California employers with five or more employees are required to provide supervisors with at least two hours of sexual harassment prevention training or education. All employees must receive at least one hour of training or education within six months of starting a job. Instruction can be provided in a classroom setting or via an interactive online course or webinar and must be completed every two years. The training must be provided by an employment law attorney or another qualified professional. Bay Oak Law assists businesses in meeting their legal obligations by offering clear, informative and efficient sexual harassment education.

California law relating to sexual harassment

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) expands upon the protections against sexual harassment provided under Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act. Here, mistreatment based on gender identity and sexual orientation is prohibited. Claimants do not need to show that the harassment was rooted in sexual desire. Gender-based harassment involving two people of the same sex also falls under the state law.

Contact a California sexual harassment defense lawyer for a free initial consultation

At Bay Oak Law in Oakland, California, we advise Bay Area employers on sexual harassment issues, including the defense against employee claims. To schedule a free initial consultation with our office, call us at 510-208-5500 or contact us online.