Why Winning A Sexual Harassment Claim In California Is Still Difficult (Even In The Post-Weinstein Era)

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Denis ZilberbergAugust 10, 2018Sexual Harassment

Following a series of outrageous sexual harassment scandals in Hollywood, and now that California lawmakers have strengthened state laws regarding this type of harassment in the workplace, one would think that winning a claim against a harasser is a walk in the park.

In practice, filing a sexual harassment claim and proving that you are entitled to financial compensation can be compared to a walk through the woods in the dark. That’s because winning a claim is still as confusing and complicated as it used to be.

“While the entire nation got woke about the actual extent of the problem of sexual harassment after the Harvey Weinstein scandal in Hollywood, courts in California are still not willing to side with alleged sexual harassment victims when evidence is considered insufficient or baseless,” explains our Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney at The Kaufman Law Firm.

Sexual harassment is not ‘severe and pervasive’

Oftentimes, California courts dismiss claims from sexually harassed workers because the plaintiff is not able to establish that sexual harassment was severe and pervasive. More often than not, alleged victims are not able to prevail on their claims because the worker does not have convincing evidence to prove that the “severe and pervasive” sexual harassment altered the conditions of her or his employment.

Our experienced sexual harassment lawyer in Los Angeles explains that in order to succeed in your efforts to hold the harasser liable for his/her sexual misconduct in the workplace, you will have to demonstrate evidence that such conduct was sufficiently pervasive to negatively affect the conditions of employment and/or create a hostile or abusive work environment.

‘Subjectively’ perceiving the workplace as hostile

California courts have held that sexual harassment that is “occasional, isolated, sporadic, or trivial” cannot be considered sufficiently pervasive to alter the conditions of employment. Likewise, you may not be able to hold the harasser accountable for his/her sexual misconduct if you “subjectively” perceive the workplace as hostile or abusive, as bizarre as it may sound.

In order to determine whether you perceive the workplace as abusive or hostile after the alleged acts of sexual harassment, California courts will put another reasonable person in your shoes, and, after taking all of the circumstances into account, see if that reasonable person shares your perception.

When you are not the direct target of sexual harassment

You may have heard that employees in California do have a right to file a sexual harassment claim when they are not the direct target of sexual misconduct at work. However, this does not mean that you can easily win a claim when your co-workers or other people are the alleged victims of sexual harassment. Courts in California have held on multiple occasions that when sexual harassment is aimed at persons other than the plaintiff, it is considered less severe and pervasive than conduct aimed at the plaintiff.

Winning a sexual harassment claim isn’t easy, but we can help

Even at a time when women can simply tweet about sexual harassment to destroy the careers and reputations of politicians, directors, actors, celebrities, and other influential men, winning a sexual harassment claim is still not that easy for an ordinary employee in California. To win a claim and prove that the conduct was severe and pervasive, you are required to collect tons of evidence to back up your claims and, preferably, have a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney by your side.

Luckily for you, we have skilled lawyers here at The Kaufman Law Firm who are available and eager to start working on your case and gather all available evidence the moment you call us. Call our offices at 310-981-3404 or complete this contact form to get a consultation.


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