Workers in California and around the country are protected from sexual harassment in the workplace by Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, and the courts have recognized various types of this kind of harassment. Quid-pro-quo- sexual harassment takes place when workers are required to have sex or enter into romantic relationships with their supervisors in order to keep their jobs or secure some sort of benefit such as a promotion or raise. Sexual harassment also occurs when offensive behavior is tolerated and workplaces become hostile environments, and discriminatory hiring and promotion practices also violate Title VII.
A case involving female farm workers provides clear examples of all of these kinds of workplace sexual harassment. The attorney general of Washington state alleged in a federal complaint filed on April 26 that the women were coerced into having sex with their supervisor and routinely groped while going about their duties. The complaint also claims that the employer involved most likely knew about the ongoing sexual harassment and failed to put a stop to it.
The farm is also accused of discriminating against women during the hiring process by assigning them to work duties based purely on their gender, and the company is alleged to have retaliated against workers who complained about the harassment. Employers may best protect themselves from this kind of litigation by taking these complaints seriously and responding appropriately.
The victims of sexual harassment are sometimes reluctant to take action, and attorneys with experience in this area may help them to make more informed decisions by explaining the factors that courts take into consideration when weighing these claims. Courts will generally consider how long the unlawful behavior has been going on, how severe it is and how it interferes with work performance.