The Harvey Weinstein Scandal and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Disgraced film mogul Harvey Weinstein is facing accusations of sexual harassment and assault from dozens of women, including Angelina Jolie, Gwyneth Paltrow and Rose McGowan. Weinstein’s representatives have denied claims of sexual assault, but acknowledged he has begun counseling. The explosive story led to Weinstein’s firing from The Weinstein Company.

The accusations against Weinstein have placed crosshairs on other elites in the industry, including Roy Price of Amazon Studios and even actor Ben Affleck.

What Are My Rights in the Workplace Regarding Sexual Assault and Harassment?

Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), sexual harassment is expressly forbidden in the workplace. Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, discrimination on the basis of sex is unlawful. FEHA provides stronger protections against harassment, so most sexual harassment claims in California will be brought under FEHA.

Generally, we categorize sexual harassment in two groups: quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment usually takes the form of either an offer or a threat. An offer might be something like a raise or a promotion in exchange for sexual conduct. Threats involve punishments, such as demotion, pay reduction and even wrongful termination.

Hostile work environments are created when harassment is serious and repeated. For victims to make a harassment case under the theory of a hostile work environment, they must be able to show a concerted pattern of harassment. California courts look at the nature of the conduct, frequency, number of days and context of the harassment to determine whether it is legally actionable.

If you believe you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, our California employment law attorneys can help you stop the harasser’s lascivious and disrespectful behavior.