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San Francisco employees, like employees everywhere, have the right to go to work and do their jobs without unwanted sexually-charged distractions or behavior. One would think that employers would universally respect this right and encourage their workers to exercise it. But in some cases, the opposite becomes true when employers either facilitate or tolerate such behavior. When aggrieved workers bring legitimate claims, they react defensively and harshly. In such an environment, many people feel they have nowhere to turn.

You can always turn to the dedicated attorneys at Bogaards Law. We are committed to helping employees defend their right to discrimination and harassment-free workplaces in San Francisco. We cannot wave a magic wand and make that happen, but we can do our part by holding negligent employers accountable for their actions. We can work to obtain the compensation and justice that employees deserve. That is what we do.

Types of Sexual Harassment Claims in California

At its core, sexual harassment is a sexually-charged impediment to effective job performance. Removing that impediment benefits everyone. For that reason, and because sexual harassment is such a hot-button issue, many of these claims settle out of court and on favorable terms.

Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and applicable California employment laws, there are two types of sexual harassment claims in San Francisco:

  • Quid Pro Quo (This for That): In the movies, it may seem romantic to some when the shy boss asks the young intern to “discuss the promotion over dinner.” In reality, however, such a quid pro quo is illegal. Employers cannot condition any positive or negative decision on any type of sexual behavior.
  • Hostile Environment: People’s perceptions may vary about what is considered a crude joke or obscene photograph, and so a single instance may not be enough to constitute a hostile environment. But if the work environment is so toxic that certain employees are unable to do their jobs properly, the environment may be a hostile one. The same conclusion applies if a worker must intentionally avoid some areas of the workplace to avoid harassing behavior.

Many sexual harassment claims are retaliation claims. Too often, employers take adverse action against workers who complain about sexual harassment in the workplace, either involving themselves or other employees. In so doing, these employers unintentionally dig their own graves, from a legal standpoint. Unwarranted retaliation is an independent cause of action that may lead to even more significant damages than a sexual harassment claim.

Damages Available in San Francisco

Sexual harassment is a very serious problem and can result in substantial damages being awarded to those who are harassed. These damages are designed to compensate the victim and also deter future wrongdoing on the part of the employer.

To that extent, in addition to the monetary damages discussed below, many sexual harassment settlements also include court-enforced consent decrees. So, even if the employer continues to deny responsibility, they still must make changes that will protect workers. Many times, this justice is more important than the money that we obtain at Bogaards Law.

Of course, financial compensation is important. The law allows several different types of compensation, including:

  • Back Pay: Many sexual harassment victims are either fired or forced to leave their jobs to flee a toxic situation. Back pay is available in these situations. This category includes not only regular cash compensation, but also non-cash compensation, expected bonuses, and any other form of remuneration.
  • Front Pay: In successful sexual harassment claims, San Francisco County judges often order an employer to reinstate victims, but that reinstatement is not always practical or desirable. In these cases, a certain amount of front pay may be available. This money makes up for the money that the victims would have earned had they returned to work.
  • Noneconomic Damages: Sexual harassment victims may endure significant pain and suffering, including loss of enjoyment in life, emotional distress, and other intangible damages. Their suffering merits both recognition and additional monetary compensation. Additional punitive damages may be available, as well.
  • Attorneys’ Fees: In sexual harassment cases, losing employers must generally pay the victim’s legal expenses. So, the victim receives quality legal representation at little or no cost to themselves.

Various federal and state laws may impose limitations on damages, particularly in the area of punitive damages, based on the company’s size.

Reach Out to Hard-Hitting Lawyers

Workplace sexual harassment in any form should never be tolerated. For a confidential consultation with an experienced employment law attorney in San Francisco, contact Bogaards Law. We routinely handle harassment matters in San Francisco County and nearby jurisdictions.

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