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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: Potential Defenses

by Shelby Wall

Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Between fiscal years 2018 and 2021, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received over 27,000 charges alleging sexual harassment in the workplace. After the #MeToo movement in 2017, such charges increased by 13.6% the following year. Of these 27,000+ charges, women filed 78.2%. In 2021, 40.8% of charges were filed concurrently alongside retaliation charges. These charges resulted in serious monetary benefits. From 2018 to 2021, monetary benefits recovered for those pressing EEOC sexual harassment charges amounted to nearly $300 million.

In Orange County, CA, sexual harassment may include any sexual discrimination that violates California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII). These laws apply to various forms of misconduct, including the following:

  • Promising benefits for sexual favors, also known as quid pro quo sexual harassment
  • Making sexual propositions
  • Displaying lewd objects or pictures
  • Making rude gestures
  • Recounting sexual experiences
  • Making sexually discriminating remarks
  • Staring
  • Physically inappropriate acts, such as nonconsensual touching, rubbing, or groping
  • Indirect harassment, such as when one person is offended by sexual misconduct inflicted on another 

The offensive conduct does not need to be driven by a sexual desire to be illegal.

Often, those in positions of power and influence are the targets of these charges. This is particularly true for quid pro quo cases.

Professional and Legal Consequences

If someone accuses you of sexual harassment in the workplace, the repercussions can be severe. The consequences can include:

  • Losing wages temporarily during proceedings
  • Suspension without pay
  • Losing your job
  • Industry shunning

First, it would be wise to consult a lawyer immediately to guide your actions. These allegations are delicate and must be handled with the utmost care. Do not give a statement before contacting your attorney.

Potential Defenses

Sometimes false claims are unfairly levied against business owners, managers, and colleagues. You have rights that protect you from false allegations, including the right to a fair workplace investigation.

If someone accuses you of workplace sexual harassment as a company owner, ask your lawyer about the following potential defenses:

  • Avoidable consequences doctrine
  • Reasonable steps were taken to avoid harassment
  • Mandatory arbitration requirement
  • Failure to mitigate

If you are an accused employee, your defenses may include the following:

  • Proving your innocence through evidence
  • Arguing the conduct did not meet the standard of harassment
  • Proving someone else was the cause of the harassment
  • Proving the issue was a misunderstanding

Your attorney can help you determine the most promising defense for your case.

Accused of Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Ronald Brower is a qualified attorney who has worked on countless defenses for workplace misconduct. These charges can come in various forms and have ranging consequences. Speak with a CA sexual harassment defense attorney today to prioritize your innocence and develop your best defense.

Contact the Law Office of Ronald G. Brower to schedule your initial consultation. 

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