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Sexual harassment is a very common and insidious problem in California and throughout the United States. Studies show that more than 75% of women will experience sexual harassment during their lifetime.

Victims of sexual harassment often suffer significant emotion effects such as anger, fear, humiliation, powerlessness, and even guilt. These emotional effects can result in diminished mental and physical health. Sexual harassment should never be dismissed or viewed as simply “part of life.” Rather, sexual harassment is a genuine offense for which victims are entitled to justice.


Sexual harassment can take many different forms. Some examples include:

  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Repeated and unwanted sexual advances
  • Unwanted physical contact
  • Verbal comments of a sexual nature, including jokes referring to sexual acts or sexual orientation
  • Commentary about sexual experiences in inappropriate contexts
  • Exposing oneself
  • Frequent stares and suggestive looks
  • Sending explicit photos or text messages

Sometimes harassment is only evident when looking at a pattern of behavior, whereas other times it’s blatantly obvious. California law has very broad protections for victims of sexual harassment. Civil lawsuits for sexual harassment can be filed against your boss, co-worker, landlord, therapist, doctor, teacher, police officer, and many others. Because sexual harassment can occur in such a broad spectrum of actions, it is important that you discuss your experiences with a skilled sexual harassment attorney.


Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Most sexual harassment claims arise from actions that occur in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act are the two foundational laws that protect employees from sexual harassment.

Two types of sexual harassment can occur at work: (1) quid pro quo and (2) hostile work environment.

Quid pro quo is a Latin phrase that means “this for that.” This type of sexual harassment occurs when a supervisor or agent of the employer offers an employee some sort of job benefit in exchange for a sexual act. For example, a supervisor promising not to reprimand an employee in exchange for a sexual act constitutes quid pro quo sexual harassment. Employee benefits can also include things like favorable performance reviews, promotions, raises, sought after shifts and clients, and even the initial hiring.

Hostile work environments can result from sexual harassment that is frequent and pervasive. For example, a co-worker asking you out on a daily basis can amount to a hostile work environment. Unlike quid pro quo harassment, a hostile environment can be caused by an employee at any level. Thus, a co-worker who engages in persistent sexual jokes, displays of inappropriate material, or unwanted physical contact can also create a hostile work environment. Many other types of actions can create a hostile work environment, so long as they occur frequently and cause you emotional distress.

Retaliation is also an important basis for a lawsuit. Employees who have the courage to report instances of sexual harassment sometimes face retaliation in response. It is strictly illegal for any employer to retaliate against an employee for reporting sexual harassment. Retaliation can be seen in actions such as demotions, lower performance evaluations, transfers of position, increased scrutiny, and physical or verbal abuse.

Importantly, the information discussed above does not provide a complete list of the laws surrounding sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can occur in so many instances and in so many different ways that is impossible to explain it all on one webpage. If you suspect that you have been sexually harassed, you should contact Maclen to discuss your experiences and the applicable laws.

Millions of people are impacted by sexual assaults each year in the United States. Current estimates suggest that someone in America is sexually assaulted every 73 seconds.

Few crimes are more heinous than rape and sexual assault. Such crimes can affect every aspect of a victim’s life, from their relationships and professional endeavors to their mental health and psychical well-being. And yet, around 97% of all rapists will never spend a day in jail. This is for two main reasons. First, sometimes rapists are shielded from the criminal law by high evidentiary burdens and prosecutors who are unwilling to devote time and energy to closing a case. Second, only around 25% sexual assaults are ever reported to police.

Although all survivors are encouraged to report sexual assaults to law enforcement, other avenues for justice exist in the civil system.


The Difference Between the Criminal System and Civil System

In criminal cases, a prosecutor from the district attorney’s office will file charges against the perpetrator. Although it is necessary to bring criminal charges in order to put a perpetrator of sexual assault in prison, sometimes what is best for the criminal case is not always best for the survivor.

In many ways, civil cases are more victim-friendly compared to the criminal cases. The survivor is the plaintiff and wields all the power in the lawsuit (rather than the prosecutor in a criminal action). The survivor decides whether to file a case, how far for proceed with it, when to settle the case, and what to settle for. Financial compensation is often the main goal of a civil lawsuit, but is not the only factor that can be included in a settlement agreement. The civil system allows for very broad and inclusive settlements. Survivors can reach a settlement with their perpetrator that requires them to transfer jobs, refrain from contact, move from their residence, attend counseling, and even issue a formal apology.

Importantly, the burden of proof for a civil case is less than what criminal courts require. This means that a perpetrator of sexual assault is more likely to be found guilty in a civil case compared to a criminal case. This is of great consequence in cases of sexual assault where sometimes the majority of evidence rests solely in the testimony of the survivor.


Targeting Third-Parties in a Lawsuit

Civil cases also allow the survivor to sue any relevant third-parties for financial compensation. Often, this greatly increases the financial reward a survivor will receive. Third parties such as employers, premises owners, and security companies are often found liable for a sexual assault. For example, if a victim was raped by a co-worker, an employer can be at fault for failing to investigate the co-worker’s history of rape and assault, or failing to thoroughly investigate complaints that could have helped prevent the rape. Likewise, property owners have a duty of care to their visitors, guests, and patrons and must take steps to protected individuals from sexual assaults.


Does a Criminal Case Affect My Civil Case?

The short answer is: no.

Criminal cases and civil cases often occur simultaneously, but sometimes survivors only choose to file a civil case. Whether or not your local district attorney has decided to file criminal charges against your perpetrator has no effect on your civil case. Even the outcome of a criminal case has no effect. As a famous example, O.J. Simpson was found not guilty in criminal court, but still held liable in civil court.

Contact Maclen if you have experienced a sexual assault and would like to discuss your case with a skilled and compassionate attorney.

Sex and gender discrimination are closely tied, yet they have two distinct meanings under the law. A person's sex refers to whether they are genetically male or female, whereas a person’s gender refers to the sex someone most closely identifies with.

Gender/sex discrimination is all too common in the workplace. A woman might be discriminated against because of her sex when being passed up for a promotion because her boss doesn’t believe that women can be proper leaders. A transgender individual might experience discrimination by being given different job opportunities, such as those with less client contact, by a prejudiced supervisor. In either case, employees are protected from such discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Neither sex nor gender discrimination should ever be tolerated and either can form the basis for a civil lawsuit.

Despite the prevalence of gender/sex discrimination, it can sometimes be difficult to spot. When faced with a lawsuit, employers will often argue that their decisions were not motivated by discrimination, but rather some kind of legitimate business purpose. It is Maclen’s job to uncover the true evidence and make the case that the employer’s actions were motivated by illegal discrimination. Gender/sex discrimination cases can be some of the hardest cases to prove and require extremely experienced and dedicated attorneys to gather solid evidence and make compelling arguments. But just because these cases are difficult does not mean that victims aren’t entitled to the justice they deserve.


Some common examples of gender/sex discrimination include:

  • Lack of advancement opportunities
  • Unequal pay
  • Different job responsibilities
  • Different expectations of employees
  • Gender-specific dress codes
  • Different interview questions (such as those focuses on a woman having a child or getting pregnant)

Contact Maclen if you feel you have been discriminated against based on your sex or gender so you can discuss your case with an experienced attorney.

Experiencing sexual harassment, sexual assault, or gender discrimination is stressful event in one’s life. The laws in this area can be difficult to navigate, and sometimes victims aren’t sure if they have a case. Other times, victims simply don’t want to interact with the perpetrator of the offense ever again. Maclen can help you determine if you have a case and he will handle the entire fight for you. He will gather all the evidence, make all contact with the opposing party, file all documents, and negotiate on your behalf. If needed, he will take your case to trial and advocate fiercely for you. All of this can be done while you focus on your emotional and physical recovery.

It is imperative that victims speak with a skilled lawyer like Maclen as early as possible to discuss their case and determine what kind of action should be taken. Often, there are several preliminary steps that should be taken prior to filing a lawsuit. Victims must be aware of relevant time deadlines, reporting and administrative requirements, and the need for documentation of all evidence. The sooner you seek legal counsel, the stronger your case will be.

Maclen is available anytime for a free phone consultation. He works exclusively on a contingency basis, meaning he only gets paid when you do.


Fighting for you.

The Law Office
of Maclen Stanley


Securing Justice for Victims of Sexual Harassment, Sexual Assault, and Gender Discrimination
Get in touch

805.368.2254

maclen@maclenstanleylaw.com