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I have been employed at the same place for 4 years, the last year I have been harassed sexually the owner of the business.

San Francisco, CA |

I have text messages that go back the year in which he expresses his feelings and I tell him repeatedly I am not interested. I used to make it thru my days, now it is all I can do to not walk out and quit.. Are text messages admissible and do they prove what I am saying is true? What are my options?

Attorney Answers 6

  1. Depending on the precise circumstances and facts of your situation, you may have a case for sexual harassment. You should consult an experienced California employment lawyer immediately.

    The text messages may be admissible, and, if they indeed contain sexual advances by your boss, they could serve as strong evidence in support of your claim.

    Good luck to you.

  2. My colleague Mr. Korobkin has given you solid advice. The owner's conduct is inappropriate. Preserve the text messages--you can also print them for safekeeping. You should meet with an employment attorney to discuss this serious matter as soon as possible.

  3. Before you quit (if you have not quit already), you need to consult with a local employment litigation attorney. Hostile work environment harassment is where speech or conduct is "severe or pervasive" enough to create a hostile or abusive work environment. It is primarily a legal term describing a workplace situation where an employee cannot reasonably perform his or her work due to certain behaviors by management or co-workers that are deemed hostile. A hostile work environment generally does not create a legal action unless it is a form of discrimination. Unwelcome verbal or physical conduct based on race, color, religion, sex (whether or not of a sexual nature and including same-gender harassment and gender identity harassment), national origin, age (40 and over), mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or retaliation constitutes harassment when the conduct is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment, or a supervisor's harassing conduct results in a tangible change in an employee's employment status or benefits (e.g., demotion, termination, failure to promote).

    Your options will depend upon the specific facts of your situation. In a lawsuit, the text messages could be admissible as evidence, as will your own testimony.

    Frank W. Chen has been licensed to practice law in California since 1988. The information presented here is general in nature and is not intended, nor should be construed, as legal advice for a particular case. This posting does not create any attorney-client relationship with the author. For specific advice about your particular situation, please consult with your own attorney.

  4. To answer your specific question, yes, text messages are fully admissible in a court of law to prove communications made between you and the harasser.

    A viable claim for sexual harassment requires that you be subjected to unwelcomed sexual comments or conduct that have reached a point where a judge or jury would find that they are so severe or pervasive as to fundamentally change your employment relationship and constitute a hostile or abusive work environment. That is likely what you are going through, but a full assessment of all of the facts and communications will be necessary before you can be confident that you have a viable case.

    It is therefore important that you locate and consult with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible to explore your facts and determine your options. I would suggest you look either on this site in the Find a Lawyer section, or go to, the home page for the California Employment Lawyers Association, an organization whose members are dedicated to the representation of employees against their employers.

    Most employment attorneys who practice this area of law work on a contingency basis, meaning you can hire an attorney without paying any money until the matter results in a positive outcome for you. Many advance all the costs of the litigation as well. Do not let fear of fees and costs keep you from finding a good attorney.

    Good luck to you.

    This answer should not be construed to create any attorney-client relationship. Such a relationship can be formed only through the mutual execution of an attorney-client agreement. The answer given is based on the extremely limited facts provided and the proper course of action might change significantly with the introduction of other facts. All who read this answer should not rely on the answer to govern their conduct. Please seek the advice of competent counsel after disclosing all facts to that attorney. This answer is intended for California residents only. The answering party is only licensed to practice in the State of California.

  5. I agree with all of my colleagues interpretation of your situation but would add a few procedural issues that may be significant based on the language of your post. First, your post references that you have text messages that go back "the year in which he expresses his feelings". It is very important that you promptly consult with an employment attorney because claims for sexual harassment and related Fair Employment and Housing Act claims, such as retaliation, failure to prevent harassment, discrimination, etc. all have very specific statute of limitations periods (i.e. dates by which you must bring a claim after an incident has happened).

    Second, the text messages are most certainly admissible should you bring a claim and I would simply add that you should find a way to preserve them on another device besides your phone. Phone company providers do not save text content for more than a few days and many phones break, get damaged or otherwise delete messages you may need and/or want. You can email them to yourself, take pictures or store them on a backup SIM card if you have a smart phone.

    Good luck locating an attorney to help you evaluate your claims.

  6. Call an employment law attorney to discuss. Many of us offer a free initial phone consultation and may be able to help you at no cost to you. Yes, text messages are used as evidence, along with any documents, witness testimony, etc. to support claims. Your attorney may be able to write a demand letter to your employer and get some type of payout without having to sue - if your employer agrees to settle. The specific facts will need to be told to your attorney to determine if you have a case and how strong it is.

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