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What are the laws about sexual harassment in California by the owner of a business

Garden Grove, CA |

Long ago there was a relationship between the owner a this small business I work for but now that I won't show him affection and tell him to leave me alone because he is married , he makes my life hell at work and I am really in a bad spot because I need this job but hate this situation . What can I do about this situation ? I've been working there for 11 years , there are soo many things like he with use foul language to me , give me dirty looks, not help me when I need help with customers. ( I'm a waitress and he is manager /owner and when I get overwhelmingly busy he won't help when he's mad at me) he's always mad at me now because I tell him leave me alone he's married . Please help this has been ongoing for too long!

Attorney Answers 5

  1. Are you saying your employer is treating you this way because you will not continue the "relationship" with him? If so, any tangible acts of retaliation are unlawful. But, quite honestly, I do not see how the employment relationship can continue. My suggestion is to give some serious consideration about negotiating a separation agreement. You will probably need an employment law attorney to effectively accomplish this.

    They say you get what you pay for, and this response is free, so take it for what it is worth. This is my opinion based on very limited information. My opinion should not be taken as legal advice. For true advice, we would require a confidential consultation where I would ask you questions and get your complete story. This is a public forum, so remember, nothing here is confidential. Nor am I your attorney. I do not know who you are and you have not hired me to provide any legal service. To do so would require us to meet and sign written retainer agreement. My responses are intended for general information only.

  2. The laws are: He's not allowed to do it. You need to contact an attorney to help you stop the harassment asap. You do not and should not have to tolerate being made uncomfortable in the work place, and as an owner, he knows that his actions are illegal.

    Good luck!

    Thomas A. Schaeffer, Esq. Law Office of Juarez and Schaeffer PO Box 16216, San Diego, CA 92105 (619) 804-4327 This posting is provided for "informational purposes" only and should not be relied upon as "legal advice." Nothing transmitted from this posting constitutes the establishment of an attorney-client relationship. Applicability of the legal principals discussed here may differ substantially in individual situations or in different States.

  3. This is retaliation because you have said no to unwelcome sexual harassment. Both sexual harassment and retaliation are against the law. You can file a complaint with the DFEH or the EEOC but it will take a long time for them to get to an investigation of your complaint. Since it is making your job uncomfortable, you should consult with an employment law attorney who can take some immediate action on your behalf to obtain a settlement/severance to compensate you for the owner's illegal actions towards you. Most attorneys take these cases on a contingency, which means you don't pay attorney fees until you get your settlement. Feel free to contact me for a free consultation.

    Barron Law Corporation Sacramento & San Francisco. 916-486-1712 or 800-529-5908. Email Deborah at: No attorney client relationship is created by this answer.

  4. Even though you were in a consensual relationship, it is unlawful for this owner to harass you after it ended. If you were to make a claim of sexual harassment, any retaliation you might face would also be unlawful. It may even be possible to quit if the conditions are so intolerable that no reasonable employee would stay. You should not exercise any of your options until you consult with an experienced employment law attorney.

    Mr. Kirschbaum and I are both local to you. I am sure Michael would be happy to help you as am I. Regardless of who you call, find an attorney right away and start the process to stop this constant harassment.

    Good luck to you.

    Pedersen Heck McQueen, APLC is an Irvine, California employee rights law firm assisting employees in all Southern California counties.

    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. To add to Mr. Kirschbaum's and Ms. Barron's good advice:
    There are practical considerations in addition to the legal issues. One difficulty in your situation is that the business owner is the one doing the unlawful harassment. He cannot be fired, transferred or disciplined for his actions, as he could if he were an employee. Another difficulty is that the restaurant is small. While I don't know what you mean by "small," it is possible that if you took the owner to court, the owner may not be able to afford to compensate you appropriately for the unlawful discrimination and harassment.
    For these reasons, you need to work with an experienced plaintiffs employment attorney who can negotiate an effective severance package for you. There are various things that won't cost the employer money but can be valuable to you. Such a package might include paying you a lump sum at the time of settlement AND paying a weekly amount equivalent to your wages + tips for a period of time, while you look for other work; PLUS a reference letter which describes your excellent work (not just the dates of employment, pay and title); AND an agreed-upon reason for the termination, such as lay-off (more believable these days than a voluntary quit) or something else benign. A good attorney should be able to help you come up with a way to make the severance possible for all parties.
    Of course, you (through your attorney) will need to let the owner/harasser know that you are prepared to go forward with litigation . . . and you must be prepared to do so, in case the negotiation does not work. So immediately collect whatever evidence you have about the relationship (notes, cards, gifts, etc. he gave you, for example) and if you have not already, start to document everything. Keep a log of any comments, adverse actions or other funny business, starting as far back as you can remember. Write down the date, time, what was said or done, who said or did it, and any witnesses. Be sure to include any complaints or objections you made him or anyone. Keep your log at home, not at work, because you never know what will disappear. If you have witnesses, make sure you know how to reach them in the event you leave this job.
    Because sexual harassment is a form of unlawful discrimination, please look at my guide to unlawful discrimination: which should help you understand lawful and unlawful discrimination, how to enforce your rights, and time limits.
    To find a plaintiffs employment attorney in California, please go to the web site of the California Employment Lawyers Association (CELA). CELA is the largest and most influential bar association in the state for attorneys who represent working people. The web site is Click on "Find a CELA Member" and you can search by location and practice area.
    I hope you can resolve your situation and wish you the best.
    Marilynn Mika Spencer
    The Spencer Law Firm
    2727 Camino del Rio South, Suite 140
    San Diego, CA 92108
    (619) 233-1313 telephone // (619) 296-1313 facsimile

    *** All legal actions have time limits, called statutes of limitation. If you miss the deadline for filing your claim, you will lose the opportunity to pursue your case. Please consult with an experienced employment attorney as soon as possible to better preserve your rights. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer provides information on Avvo as a service to the public, primarily when general information may be of assistance. Avvo is not an appropriate forum for an in-depth response or a detailed analysis. These comments are for information only and should not be considered legal advice. Legal advice must pertain to specific, detailed facts. No attorney-client relationship is created based on this information exchange. *** Marilynn Mika Spencer is licensed to practice law before all state and federal courts in California, and can appear before administrative agencies throughout the country. She is eligible to represent clients in other states on a pro hac vice basis. ***

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