When most people think of sexual harassment in the workplace, they think of male workers harassing or propositioning female coworkers. However, men can also be the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. In fact, female on male, or male on male, harassment accounts for approximately 20% of all harassment complaints filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. 1 The number of men reporting being the victim of sexual harassment has increased significantly in the past few years, increasing from 11.6% in 1997 to 16.3% in 2011 alone. 2
Although the number complaints are steadily increasing, many employers do not take the sexual harassment of men seriously, thus, the harassment may continue long after a victim has reported misconduct. Some mean even experience retaliation, i.e. demotion, write-up, discharge, after complaining about harassment. This could be a violation of California Law.
California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) protects male employees from discrimination and harassment based on sex. 3 “Sexual harassment” is a form of unlawful sex discrimination, and it is prohibited by federal and state laws. These laws apply to private employers, public employers, employment agencies, and labor organizations.
Quid Pro Quo Harassment occurs when a person with authority becomes an aggressor and abuses his/her authority over you to harass you. For example, your female/male supervisor may offer you a promotion, raise or other employment benefit in exchange for sexual favors. Alternatively, your supervisor may demand sexual favors from you while threatening to terminate you or give you a poor performance review if you refuse to comply. If you are subject to any negative employment action, California law gives you the right to take immediate legal action.
Hostile Work Environment Harassments occurs when a coworkers or another individual who does not have authority over you treats you differently or subjects you to unwanted attention based on your sex. Typically, a single offensive sexual comment or gesture will often not give rise to a legal claim. Instead, the conduct has to create what a “reasonable person” in your situation would consider a “hostile work environment.” This environment is created when a coworker engages in repeated and pervasive conduct that make working with them unbearable. If you believe you are the victim of a hostile work environment it is important that you contact an attorney immediately.
It can be difficult for a male employee to complain about sexual harassment because of old stereotypes. You should not feel emasculated for exercising your rights under the law. Anti-discrimination and harassment laws are in place for a reason, and your employer should always comply with the law.
Harassment may damage your job performance, and harm you mentally, emotionally and financially. It is important that you seek out help without further delay.
Our firm has litigated numerous cases based on female supervisor/male and male/male harassment. We are dedicated to protecting the rights of male employees that are victims of sexual harassment. Contact us today for a free consultation.