Verbal sexual harassment and physical sexual harassment have similarities. However, there are some aspects that differentiate them from one another. With verbal harassment, there are many types of verbal conduct of a sexual nature which can result in sexual harassment. Examples are:
- Making sex-related jokes.
- Making comments about an individual’s clothing, behavior, relationships, or body.
- Asking for sexual favors or dates.
- Intentionally spreading rumors about an individual’s personal or sexual life.
- Threatening an individual because they rejected a sexual request.
- Sending an individual images, drawings, or emails of a sexual nature.
Overall, individuals experiencing verbal sexual harassment can endure mental damage from the offender if such actions persist and become severe.
Severe or Pervasive
To meet the official term of “harassment,” actions must be either severe or pervasive. It is not required for both to exist. The law does not aggressively go against minimal teasing, offhand comments, or situations that only happen only once or so.
Basically, if an individual rejects an invitation to go out on a date, it may not be considered as either severe or pervasive. However, if an individual keeps presenting themselves in an unwelcomed manner while forcing his or her sexual presence on a victim(s) for a long-period of time would meet the definition of sexual harassment.
It’s a good idea to look back at the amount of times you’ve been contacted with similar inappropriate actions. This will help you know what the next step will be once an individual inflicting inappropriate actions on you becomes a serious issue.
Tips When Facing Verbal Sexual Harassment
- If the offender continues making requests for inappropriate behavior, say no. If the harassment does not conclude after that, keep a record of the amount of times they have bothered you, along with what they are saying. It is good to keep a copy of the written communication as a piece of evidence. Make sure to include dates, places, times and witnesses.
- Ask your co-workers if they saw or heard anything.
- Report the verbal harassment to your employer or Human Resources Department. Basically, anyone who has the capability of preventing future interactions relating to verbal harassment from occurring must be informed.
- When you make a report, make it in writing. Emphasize the problem and mention important details about what happened. This will give you a written record of when you made first made a complaint. Make sure to keep copies of all written documents.
- In California, you may request a copy of your personnel file from your employer. Former and current employees can use this as an opportunity to access their personal and other employment records, as well.
- Find your employers policies by looking into your employee manual or ask a representative in the Human Resources department. You may be able to use these procedures to stop any harassment before resorting to legal action. Try to follow your employer’s complaint procedures and inform them that you did everything stated within these procedures. This will give the employer a full understanding that you made all attempts to prevent the situation from getting worse.
- File a lawsuit in federal or state court. You need to file your claim as a sexual harassment complaint with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You may also contact California’s fair employment agency, the Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).
- Report verbal sexual harassment immediately if it is severe or pervasive. There are legal deadlines for filing a formal complaint with government agencies. If your employer does not do anything about it, you may still take legal action against them as well. You are not allowed to bring a lawsuit against your employer until you submit your complaint to the EEOC or California’s fair employment agency.
Deadlines to File a Complaint
- Claim with EEOC: 300 days after a verbal sexual harassment incident occurred.
- Claim with DFEH: 1 year after a verbal sexual harassment incident occurred.
- Claim with DFEH (only applies when individual has learned the facts more than a year after the inappropriate acts began): 1 year and 90 days after a verbal sexual harassment incident occurred.
What Can West Coast Employment Lawyers Do For You?
If you have made up your mind to take action, it is important to work with an attorney that specializes in cases like yours. The sexual harassment lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers have extensive experience handling sexual harassment cases. We will work tirelessly to gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your rights.
We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if we are able to recover for you. Our legal team is available 24/7 and will take care of your case from start to finish. For a free no-obligation consultation with a sexual harassment attorney in California, contact our office at (213) 927-3700