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Defining sexual orientation harassment

Most people spend the majority of their weeks, and even years, at their jobs. Therefore, when another co-worker's actions make the environment hostile, it can create a negative experience.

Thankfully, there are certain measures in place to help prevent or address such instances. The first step is to identify the action. In regards to sexual orientation harassment, there are a few things to keep in mind. 

Protect yourself from termination due to harassment claims

You spend a significant portion of your life at the workplace, and any amount of discomfort can be debilitating. When someone is harassing you or engaging in offensive behavior, you may feel lost on how to resolve the situation.

It is difficult to predict how your superiors may respond to harassment claims, so it is wise to do your due diligence in preparing your report. The more documentation you provide, the more protected you are against losing your job because of these claims.

Is it ever acceptable to ask a coworker for a date?

On this year’s season of “RuPaul’s Drag Race,” a minor plot is the budding relationship between Miss Vanjie and Brooke Lynn Hytes, two contestants on the show. While the interaction between the two queens makes for great television, it also brings up an important question: Is it ever acceptable to ask a coworker for a date? 

Both federal and California law prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. While there exist a variety of ways to engage in sexual harassment, unwelcomed flirting with a coworker usually crosses the line. There is not, however, an overarching legal prohibition against dating coworkers. As such, before you ask a coworker for a date, you should be certain you are on a solid foundation. 

Can an employer change my job if I get pregnant?

One of the happiest days may include the one you discover a bundle of joy is coming your way. You may want to broadcast the news to everyone, with one exception: your boss.

A stigma about pregnant women in the workplace may exist in some industries such as hospitality and theme parks. Can an employer force you to change your job while pregnant? What protection do pregnant women have against discrimination at work?

Why is sexual harassment so common in the restaurant industry?

Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem in the restaurant industry. Restaurant employees file more claims of sexual harassment than workers in any other industry. In fact, one report finds that 90 percent of women are affected by sexual harassment in the foodservice industry. This is a serious issue in all types of eating establishments, including full-service restaurants, bars and limited-service restaurants. But it is a problem in lower-end places too. Another finding shows that 40 percent of women in fast food jobs experience unwanted sexual behaviors. 

But why are restaurants so vulnerable to such behavior? Here is a look at some reasons why sexual harassment is an ongoing challenge in these settings.

When constructive discharge becomes wrongful termination

When starting a new job, employees may feel excited, anxious and a little overwhelmed, but they settle in after a few weeks. The work is interesting, and co-workers are kind and helpful. The manager's style is supportive, rather than punitive.

Businesses can experience a constant state of change. Employees leave, and new people replace them. An economic downturn sparks added job duties that may cause stress for workers. The perfect job can become the perfect nightmare if business leaders sequester themselves from what they consider to be mundane workplace dynamics.  

California law protects LGBT workers from harassment

It is an unfortunate reality that members of the LGBT community often face harassment and discrimination in the workplace. Thankfully, the law is on your side. The Fair Employment and Housing Act protects workers from mistreatment based on sexual orientation and gender identity. 

Even though the fact that this law exists may be comforting, it can still be confusing and stressful to face these issues at work. Learn more about what the law says and how to fight for your rights by reading below. 

How to fight back against disability harassment

Individuals with disabilities have protections under the Americans with Disabilities Act. Employers cannot discriminate against or harass an individual because he or she has a disability. Additionally, employers must provide reasonable accommodations for these employees so they can do their jobs adequately. 

While these protections exist, many employers disregard them. Some bosses are merely unaware of what the law entails. Employees with disabilities need to be aware of their rights and how to fight back when they experience discrimination in some form. 

#MeToo has inspired victims to take action across many industries

The #MeToo movement inspired victims of sexual harassment to share their stories online. As more and more women said "me too" to instances of sexual harassment and assault, many decided it was time to take their case to the court.

Many instances of workplace sexual harassment within the entertainment industry became high profile as well-known celebrities faced accusations. But #MeToo has sparked litigation of sexual harassment claims across many other industries you may not have heard as much about.

Workplace harassment can be subtle and difficult to recognize

Nearly every employee in California and elsewhere knows about harassment and discrimination related to their gender, race, age or sexual orientation. However, you may not realize that some behaviors that you may think are merely irritating or uncomfortable can qualify as harassment. You may also find it interesting to learn that harassment can start subtly, only to gradually increase in severity and leave you wondering if it is all in your head.

According to Business Insider, sexual harassment and other forms of harassment and discrimination include frequent, severe behaviors that create an offensive or hostile work environment or result in an unfair employment decision, such as a demotion or termination without cause. Some examples of subtle harassment can include the following:

  • Telling offensive jokes and accusing the offended person of not having a sense of humor
  • Standing too close to a co-worker or subtly touching the other person, such as putting a hand on a shoulder or small of the back
  • Repeatedly asking questions about one’s personal life that are invasive or disrespectful
  • Giving a backhanded compliment, such as, “You may need to fight off the men wearing an outfit like that.”
  • Displaying posters, books and other material in an office or workspace that can be seen as insensitive or offensive
  • Making flippant or threatening remarks against people of a certain color, gender, nationality or sexual orientation

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