Job interviews are always stressful and anxiety-inducing. But add sexual harassment into the mix and they immediately become even more nerve-racking for the job applicant.
Even in the wake of the #MeToo movement, women are still being subject to unwanted sexual propositions, lewd remarks, offensive comments and other forms of unsolicited sexual misconduct during job interviews and in the course of the hiring process.
Being a victim of sexual harassment during a job interview is especially traumatizing if you desperately want that job or have dreamed about it for a long time. You walk into your prospective employer’s office and instead of hearing questions that would help him or her determine whether you are qualified to do the job or not, the employer keeps making unwanted sexual advances or in any other way sexually harasses you.
Our Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney at JML Law explains that many employers cannot resist the temptation of taking advantage of a job applicant’s position in the pre-employment process to make sexual propositions, lewd remarks or jokes, or otherwise turn the process into an awkward and distressing disaster. Some employers, especially males, feel the urge to assert their authority, and sexually harassing a job applicant is their way of doing it.
When a job applicant, usually a woman, finds herself in such a situation, it can cause her to doubt her qualifications and become reluctant to continue pursuing her career out of fear that she could be sexually harassed during any subsequent job interviews.
“Contrary to the popular belief, job applicants and prospective employees are protected from sexual harassment just as much as a company’s current employees,” says our sexual harassment attorney in Los Angeles. Just because you are not hired by the company does not mean that you cannot file a sexual harassment claim against the employer who harassed you during a job interview.
Under California law, the goal of the application and hiring process is to help an employer determine whether a job applicant is qualified to be hired. The pre-employment process is not a platform for an employer to sexually harass his or her prospective employees.
Do keep in mind that not all forms of inappropriate conduct during a job interview are considered sexual harassment. Under California’s anti-harassment law, any isolated incidents such as ordinary teasing, asking for a phone number, of making non-offensive remarks does not typically amount to sexual harassment unless the employer makes these unwanted sexual advances repeatedly despite the job applicant’s lack of interest or refusal to engage in a sexual activity or answer inappropriate questions.
In fact, in California, employers can only ask their job applicants questions that will help them determine whether or not the person is qualified for the job. Therefore, any questions about the applicant’s gender, sexual activity or preferences, sexual orientation and identity, and other questions are prohibited by law.
Although the vast majority of job applicants who have been sexually harassed during the hiring process are reluctant to invest their time, money, and emotional stability into bringing a sexual harassment claim, it may be worth to consider the possibility of suing the employer who sexually harassed you not only for the sake of financial compensation and recovery of damages but also to prevent other unsuspecting job applicants from becoming victims of this particular harasser.