Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Brad Nakase, Attorney


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Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the work place usually arises when one party has power or authority over the other and abuses that power with sex. Fortunately, this type of interaction under California law is prohibited especially in the workplace. Most people assume sexual harassment arises only with women but it can occur regardless of sex.[1]


What constitutes sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is defined as, “unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”[2] It must be objectively seen as hostile, meaning a reasonable person in the victim’s shoes would also believe harassment has occurred. However, the victim must also have suffered his or her own personal injury.[3] The effect of the harassment must be so severe that the victim/employee’s work conditions have changed and he or she does not feel comfortable in the work environment. This can arise through distress, anxiety, leaving his or her job, etc. Further, there must be more than just one isolated incident; the conduct must be more often than that.[4] Moreover, the victim cannot claim sexual harassment if he or she welcomed it.[5]


Quid pro quo sexual harassment

Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase meaning, “this for that.” In a sexual harassment claim, this type of interaction is just as it says, giving something in return for a sexual act.

Unlike hostile work environment sexual harassment, quid pro quo occurs when the aggressor does something for the aggressor and in return the aggressor gets sexual favors. An example would be an employee having sex with her boss in order to get a raise or a day off.


In order to prove a quid pro quo claim, plaintiff must show tangible employment results occurred because of a refusing his or her aggressor’s demands.[6]


Who is liable if a sexual harassment claim arises?

If an employee files a sexual harassment claim, he or she can do so personally against the aggressor or against her employer, or both. For instance, if the aggressor was another employee at a bank, the victim may sue the bank itself regardless of whether the employer knew or should have known about the harassment.[7]


Further, if the aggressor is a boss or supervisor, the employer will be strictly liable, meaning damages must be paid regardless of whether the employer knew or was at any fault. However, if the aggressor is another employee and not a person with authority, like a supervisor, the employer is not strictly liable. In fact, he or she will only be liable if:

  • Employer knew or should have known of the conduct and
  • Employer failed to take appropriate steps to alter the conduct.[8]


Is consent a valid defense?

Consent, voluntarily entering into a sexual relationship, is usually a defense to many torts or claims. However, it is not determinative for sexual harassment. The court focuses on whether the sexual advances were unwelcomed not whether the victim participated in the conduct.[9] This means the aggressor could try to argue the victim engaged in the sexual behavior freely but in reality, the victim was coerced into the behavior meaning consent would not apply.

I think I have a case… what do I do?

If you feel you have been violated, you may have three options: speak with your employer or the human resources department, bring an administrative claim, or file a lawsuit. It is important to remember there is a one-year statute of limitations from the time of harassment to bring a claim.[10] In order to speed the process up and ensure you file within the allotted timeline, it is encouraged to seek help from a lawyer. Moreover, there may be fear that if you complain, the employer will fire you. However, this is illegal under California law and is known as retaliation.[11] An employer cannot terminate you just because you have filed a claim against he or she.


When speaking with a lawyer, he or she will determine whether you have a case or not. Specifically, they listen for key factors or facts that may have been present during your harassment. These include:

  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Unwanted intrusive questions about your body
  • Pressure caused by sexual behavior
  • Touched without consent
  • Having to attend unwanted meetings, specifically outside work.[12]


Although having a lawyer may seem expensive, in many of these cases, you will not pay for anything except costs associated with creating documents like printing fees, court fees, etc. the lawyer will be paid for his or her services either by the defendant or from a percentage of your winnings.

Call or Write for a Free Confidential Consultation

If you or someone you love need an aggressive and compassionate attorney who will listen and aggressively protect your interest, we invite you to call attorney Brad for a free consultation.

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Car Accident Lawyer

I have served hundreds of injured persons. Also, I have worked at a national law firm hired by big-name insurance companies to defend big businesses against high stakes lawsuits stemming from car accidents. I know all the tricks the insurance companies use to minimize money payment to injured persons.  Learn More

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I own and ride a Honda CBR500. I understand the unique challenges of being a rider in an ocean of cars. A motorcycle accident can occur anywhere and at an instant which may result in life-changing injuries. As a rider, I have a unique insight to protect your interest and ensure you are fairly compensated for your injuries.

Trucking Accident Lawyer and Commercial Vehicle Accident Lawyer

I’ve helped major insurance companies defending truckers in severe injury cases which include traumatic brain injuries. I have a unique insight into how big insurance companies defend trucking accidents. I will fight hard to ensure you are fairly compensated for your injuries.

Uber Accidents Lawyer

I have worked at a major national law firm hired by the insurance company to defend Uber drivers. I’ve defended Uber drivers in severe injuries cases and know how insurance companies defend injury cases.

Taxi Accident Lawyer

I have worked at a major national law firm hired by the insurance company to defend taxi drivers; I’ve defended taxi drivers sued in serious injuries cases and know how insurance companies defend injury cases.

Trip and Fall Injury Lawyer

Trip and fall cases are challenging because of the complexity of the issues involved. To establish liability, trip and fall cases may require safety engineers, structural engineers, or any other experts qualified to testify regarding the standard of care in the specific situation and whether it was breached.


Legal Reference

[1] Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson, 477 U.S. 57, hn 2

[2] 29 C.F.R. § 1604.11(a) (1985)

[3] Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson (1986) 477 U.S. 57, 68, hn 4

[4] Civ. Code 51.9

[5] Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson (1986) 477 U.S. 57, hn 8

[6] Hughes v. Pair (2009) 46 Cal.4th 1035, hn 14

[7] Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson (1986) 477 U.S. 57, 68

[8] Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (j)(1)

[9] Meritor Sav. Bank, FSB v. Vinson (1986) 477 U.S. 57, 68, hn 6

[10] Gov. Code, § 12960

[11] Gov. Code, § 12940, subd. (h)

[12] 29 C.F.R. § 1604.11(a) (1985)

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