Sexual Harassment Outside the Workplace

Did you know California law protects you not only at work but from sexual harassment outside the workplace?  When people think of “sexual harassment” they are usually talking about something that happens at work between co-employees of the same company.  However, it is not just employees of the same business who are entitled to be free from sexual harassment.  Sometimes, men and women are victimized in other settings, such as when they are at a doctor’s office, an attorney’s office, real estate business or any other “substantially similar” situation.

What Amounts to Sexual Harassment

The California statute (Civil Code Section 51.9) that prohibits such misconduct in almost all business settings also defines harassment as “sexual advances, solicitations, sexual requests, demands for sexual compliance….[or] other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature or of a hostile nature based on gender, that were unwelcome and pervasive or severe.”  For example, if a doctor performs an unnecessary examination of a female patient’s private parts while expressing a sexual or physical interest in the patient, this would almost certainly amount to sexual harassment under the law.  Subtle flirtations and compliments would probably not be enough, unless they were coupled with some other forward physical behavior.  Beyond this, the laws requires there to be an “inability ..to easily terminate the relationship”.  The appellate courts have generally held that almost any true business interaction (even one in which the victim could simply stand up and walk away) will satisfy this requirement.

Compensation for Harassment Victims

Under the law, victims of sexual harassment who bring claims under Section 51.9 are entitled to recover for physical injury, emotional upset, and other actual damages (including the cost of counseling or medical care), as well as punitive damages and attorney’s fees.  In other words, pretty much any and every reasonably related injury or expense that results from being victimized can be recovered.  Since Section 51.9 includes punitive damages and attorney’s fees provisions, the compensation paid to the victim is generally more than it would be when compared to a negligence claim.

An experienced Orange County Sexual Harassment Lawyer can help you get the compensation you deserve when someone has harassed you.  Don’t let a predator just go on about their business…bring it to a stop.


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