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What is Sexual Abuse?

First of all you have to understand that the right to be free of Sexual Harassment is a Civil Right protected under state law by the California Constitution and by the UNRUH Civil Rights Act. Civil rights are also protected by the U.S. Constitution.

You must be prepared to prove that the abuse had created a hostile or abusive work environment based on sex.

No, all sexual harassment in the workplace is actionable. You must prove that it is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of your employment, and create an abusive working environment.

The bottom line is that the alleged sexual advances were unwelcome.

Remember the work "Welcome" it is all-important to your case.

The work "Welcome" is all important because once you prove that the sexual advances were "Unwelcome" it doesn't matter whether you were forced or consented to participate by force or against your will, as that is not a defense.

Sadly, any sexually provocative speech or dress by you is admissible evidence as an indication of willingness. You have to be ready to prove that these advances were "Unwelcome" and be prepared to back it up with some kind of corroborating evidence like a witness or, preferably, a writing.

Whether the sexual advance was "welcomed" is always the abuser's first line of defense. "Oh she", or for that matter, "He wanted it", is heard over and over in these kind of cases.

Also, remember that it is not always the fellow employee or "boss" who is responsible, but, also management where they knew of the behavior, consciously were indifferent to it or consented to its occurrence. In that case, you must prove that the company is liable too. So, make that happen by witnesses or writings.


First of all, consult an experienced lawyer. Be prepared to give a comprehensive account of your experiences according to what you have already read.

Do not expect to pay for the first 15 minutes of consultation because a good lawyer experienced in this field will know in a "New York" minute whether you have a case or not, and will give you straightforward advice knowing that this is in your best interest and looking forward to future business from you should the occasion arise.

If you have a case, you could recover Compensatory damages, (lost earnings, future earnings, out of pocket costs, and the like). Statutory damages, (three times actual damages), Attorney fees pursuant to Civil Code Section 52, and Punitive damages, (the sky is the limit here depending on the financial worth of the company).

Remember that the company will be responsible in damages if those in authority knew or should have known what was going on and did nothing to stop it. Management's shutting its eyes to discrimination and sexual abuse amounts to the establishment of a policy in its favor. Consequently, it is imperative that you immediately report, preferably in writing, the abuse of your superior. If the abuser is your superior, publicize it in some other manner such as having your lawyer write a letter setting forth what happened. It can't be libel or slander if provably true. Also don't worry abut retaliation, a Deputy Los Angeles City Attorney recently won a pay increase and a promotion that she claimed were denied because she filed a sexual harassment suit against a supervisor, which had been settled for "Big Bucks" two years earlier, if the abusers retaliate, the amount you can recover goes up "Big Time" for obvious reasons.

It is equally important to remember that your rights are not limited to being free of sexual abuse. It is unlawful for any business or person to discriminate on the basis of sex to full and equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, privileges, or services by denying these rights or by aiding or inciting denial of these rights.

Also, not only the sexual abuse and discrimination is unlawful, it is also unlawful to intimidate, threaten, or coerce any person with the purpose of interfering with your rights, and certainly, it is unlawful to punish any person for exercising or attempting to exercise a protected right or privilege. These are violations separate and apart from the actual abuse, but are equally actionable. If not done by the abuser, an allegation of conspiracy will satisfy the requirement of "Aiding" as to those defendants who themselves did not violate the law, making them equally responsible.

Administrative remedies are available through the Department of Fair Employment and Housing, but exhaustion of administrative remedies is not required as a condition of your filing a lawsuit.

Finally, inappropriate grabbing, fondling or worse through force or fear are criminal acts, which, at the least amount to assault and battery which is subject to both criminal and civil sanctions.

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