New California Sexual Harassment Law Clarifies Requirements

A new bill in signed into California law clarifies the requirements necessary to prove a sexual harassment claim. The California governor signed SB 292 on August 12, updating the Fair Employment and Housing Act to include specific requirements necessary to prove a sexual harassment case. The law was developed to overturn a decision made in a 2011 court case that made it difficult for employees to claim sexual harassment in the workplace.

SB 292 specifically states that sexual harassment does not need to be motivated by sexual desire. This means that employees do not have to prove sexual desire or intent behind the harassment they experience on the job when filing a claim. The bill overturns the ruling in the 2011 Kelly v. The Conco Companies case in which a male plaintiff claimed he was subjected to sexual harassment from his male supervisor and co-workers. The appellate court decided that while the plaintiff may have experienced offensive behavior from his superiors and co-workers, there was no evidence that they were acting out of “sexual desire or intent,” thus the plaintiff could not sue for sexual harassment.

The 2011 decision conflicted with a 2006 decision that stated a plaintiff only needed to prove that they were treated unfairly due to their gender, not that the harassment was motivated by sexual intent. The new law, SB 292, brings back this decision.

Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace can experience serious physical and emotional trauma. Sexual harassment is illegal whether the victim is a man or woman, and whether the harasser is of the same or opposite sex. These same sexual harassment laws also apply universally  to gays and lesbians.

Our California labor law attorneys can help you figure out what to do if you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. Contact our Los Angeles harassment attorneys to set up a free consultation today.

Kesluk, Silverstein & JacobLos Angeles employment attorneys

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