It may be tempting for many people to continue to think of certain types of sexual touching, like grabbing a person's hand or forcing a hug, as just harmless flirtation. However, employees should remember that California and federal law could actually treat this sort of behavior as sexual harassment.
As we have discussed on our blog before, employers in the Los Angeles area must not allow supervisors, colleagues, or even non-employs to engage in unwelcome sexual touching, even if the touching is thought by some to be just flirtatious.
The reality is that this sort of behavior can make employees feel very uncomfortable at best and, at worst, downright scared and angry. In bad cases, this behavior can leave an employee in such emotional turmoil that they can no longer work in that environment.
When unwanted touching happens, an employee may have the right to sue her employer for cultivating or even just allowing a hostile work environment, that is, an environment where unwanted sexual advances are tolerated and not shut down immediately.
Indeed, there have been some recent noteworthy cases of alleged sexual harassment in the Los Angeles area of late. For instance, a cameraman who worked on the set of Criminal Minds has filed suit against several companies involved with that show. The man says his supervisor, whose title was director of photography, touched him in a sexual manner on a regular basis while the man worked his job.
A victim of unwanted touching should not accept it as harmless flirting or just part of life. Indeed, the victim may be entitled to compensation which in some cases can include punitive damages.