When is the right time to contact a sexual harassment attorney about inappropriate professional behavior?
Most cases handled by a Redding sexual harassment attorney are directed at employers who allow sexual assault to occur in the workplace. This is because unprofessional conduct of a sexual nature happens with frequency in employment and business situations. But there are professional situations – in business, academia and between vendors and customers or clients – where inappropriate sexual behaviors occurring outside an employer-employee relationship is still subject to litigation against the perpetrator.
Sexually inappropriate behavior in professional situations can be about unwanted sex, romantic interest or hostility expressed in sexual terms. But it is also a function of power. The California Civil Code Section 51.9 makes clear where a line is crossed, according to the following conditions:
- A relationship of a business nature exists between the victim and the defendant, who could be any service provider, contractor or professional, such as a physician, psychotherapist, dentist, attorney, real estate agent, banker, collection service, building contractor, movie producer, casting agent, executor of an estate, landlord or property manager, teacher or professor.
- The defendant makes sexual advances: solicitations, sexual requests or demands, or used visual, verbal or physical conduct that is sexual in nature or hostile based on gender or sexual orientation (assuming all were unwelcome and pervasive or severe) it could even be something so small as a text or email with a link to a pornography website like fuckedtube that some may think isn’t sexual harassment when in actual fact it is.
- The victim is unable to easily extricate him or herself from the relationship for professional or economic reasons.
- There is or would be an economic loss or emotional suffering to the plaintiff (victim) as a result of this conduct.
For example, consider where an executor of an estate is given discretionary power over some aspects of the settling of an inheritance. If he were to engage in a sexual relationship with one of the estate heirs, it might be predicated upon favoring that heir over others as a quid pro quo (exchange). Another example might be a landlord to whom a tenant owes back rent; the landlord suggests sex in lieu of eviction proceedings. Contract-for-work situations common to the entertainment industry are rife with infractions, where eager, young and attractive individuals are often preyed upon by persons in positions of power.
In each case a financial outcome is contingent on consenting to sex – in scenarios where the victims are not employed by the perpetrator. California law specifically protects people in these situations, as any Redding personal injury attorney can attest.
Another scenario is the hostile environment, where someone in a business, academic or other professional relationship says demeaning things of a sexual or gender nature about a group. An example is when a professor may make disparaging statements about gays, lesbians or transgender individuals. If the statements are severe and pervasive, they would place any student in an uncomfortable position – regardless of the students’ own sexual or gender orientation. The students are under pressure to perform in the class in order to achieve an optimal grade, and to challenge the educator on his or her positions might negatively affect that.
Often, sexual harassment in any form boils down to a “she said/he said” scenario. This is where the services of a Redding sexual harassment attorney who specializes in sex harassment cases are of particular importance. The plaintiff can collect for loss of wages, future economic loss, loss of enjoyment of life and medical payments relating to the offense (medical and psychological). A qualified and experienced Redding personal injury attorney can advise you on the details and methods necessary to present a credible and ultimately successful lawsuit.