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Everywhere you read, there are new and ongoing claims of sexual harassment throughout the United States. Sexual harassment in the State of California is defined in Civil Code, Section 51.9, providing the various elements to assert and prove a cause of action for sexual harassment.  California Civil Code §51.9 states as follows:

“(a)      A person is liable in a cause of action for sexual harassment under this section when the plaintiff proves all of the following elements:

(1)       There is a business, service or professional relationship between the plaintiff and defendant. Such a relationship may exist  between a plaintiff and a person, including, but not limited, any of the following persons:

(a)       Physician, psychotherapist or dentist;

(b)       Attorney, holder of Master’s Degree in social work, real estate agent, real estate appraiser, accountant, banker, trust officer,  financial planner, loan officer, collection service, building contractor or escrow loan officer;

(c)       Executor, trustee or administer;

(d)       Landlord or property manager;

(e)       Teacher;

(f)        A relationship that is substantially similar to any of the above;

(2)       The defendant has made sexual advances, solicitations, sexual requests, demands for sexual compliance by the plaintiff or engaged in other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature or of a hostile nature based on gender, that were unwelcome and pervasive or severe.

(3)       There is inability by the plaintiff to easily terminate the relationship.

(4)       The plaintiff has suffered or will suffer economic loss or disadvantage or personal injury, including, but not limited to, emotional  distress or the violation of a statutory or constitutional right, such as the conduct described in paragraph (2).”

A person who proves the elements of sexual harassment as described above, can be awarded damages in the State of California.  The damages that may be awarded by a California jury based upon proof of sexual harassment includes, but is not limited to, an amount to be determined by a jury, or court sitting without a jury, as well as exemplary damages. Damages may also include attorney’s fees as well as potential civil penalties as described within the Civil Code.

There has always been abundant amount of sexual harassment claims, mostly buried in the sidelines, based upon denials and/or fear of proceeding in a public forum. The current prevalence of sexual harassment claims has made it easier for victims of sexual harassment to come forward, with current or prior claims of this nature.

If you, a family member, or acquaintance have been a victim of sexual harassment, or other claims of this, or of a similar nature, contact the Heiting & Irwin for a free initial consultation as to your legal rights.

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