It's true that the majority of Orange County sexual harassment claims originate from issues in the workplace.
However, our Orange County sexual harassment attorneys are beginning to wonder if that's only because young students don't typically have the resources to file sexual harassment suits - or maybe their parents just don't realize what's happening.
According to a survey conducted by RTI International, students in the seventh-grade are experiencing alarming rates of sexual harassment and sexual violence at the hands of their peers.
In fact, of the more than 1,400 students, the majority of whom were 12 years-old, who were questioned, about half said they had experienced some form of sexual harassment within the previous six months. These acts included actions such as being pinched or grabbed or being the target of sexually-motivated "jokes."
Sexual harassment is considered a form of discrimination, and both federal and civil laws protect individuals from being subjected to it. Under federal law, it's outlined in Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. It holds that employers (namely, public employers, labor unions and employment agencies) are responsible for stopping and preventing sexual harassment on the job. California's Fair Employment and Housing Act essentially requires the same.
So if you work in a school district and are harassed by a teacher, that's covered. And if the aggressor happens to be a teacher or other school staff member, a recent ruling in Santa Clarita - C.A. v. William S. Hart Union High School District - allows that a student can sue the district when the school has failed to protect a student from those advances.
But if you're a student and you're aggressor is another student, the law is less clear. However, that doesn't mean you or your child don't have options.
The first thing you should do is consult with an experienced Orange County sexual harassment attorney. He or she can help you sift through the facts of the case and determine your best course of action.
Young teens are just beginning to awaken to their own sexuality, and many are often not instructed on how to behave appropriately. But that does not excuse the behavior or mean that you or your child should have to suffer it. In situations in which the teacher or school district has refused to take action to eliminate these unwanted advances that create a hostile learning environment, it becomes even more important to retain the services of an attorney.
The RTI study also took it a step further to analyze dating violence among seventh-graders, and discovered that, too, was occurring at an especially alarming rate. While 75 percent of these 12-year-olds reported having already had a boyfriend or girlfriend in the past, about 1 in 6 said they had suffered some form of violence from that person. More than 30 percent said they had been harassed by a romantic interest via social media channels, such as Facebook.
If you or someone you love has been the victim of sexual harassment in Orange County or in any of the surrounding areas, it is critical for you to contact an Orange County Sexual Harassment attorney. Contact the California Legal Team at (800) 285-1763 to discuss your rights.