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Ask LawTalk Your Own Question
LawTalk, Attorney
Category: California Employment Law
Satisfied Customers: 37639
Experience:  I have 30 years of experience in the practice of law, including employment law and discrimination law.
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Hi, Im a family nurse practitioner, and for the last 15 months

Customer Question

I'm a family nurse practitioner, and for the last 15 months worked at a private pediatric clinic in California (owned and operated by the doctor and his wife). The doctor began making unsolicited and unwanted physical contact with me (rubbing my back/neck while at my desk, hugging me so that I could not move) and has also sent me after-hour text messages telling me how wonderful I am. All of this made me uncomfortable, but his wife is the administrator, and is somewhat of a bully toward the staff. Therefore, I chose to resign and leave quietly and gave more than 30 days notice. All of my reviews up to my resignation have been stellar; but when I resigned, things became ugly at the clinic, and on my last day, the letter they gave me is not supportive of my skills as a practitioner. I am hurt, and now may have difficulty finding another job due to this; what can I do? Janet
Submitted: 4 years ago.
Category: California Employment Law
Expert:  LawTalk replied 4 years ago.
Good morning Janet,

I'm Doug, and I'm very sorry to hear of your situation.

How many employees of the medical practice, including yourself, were there during the time of this sexual harassment?

Expert:  LawTalk replied 4 years ago.
Good morning Janet,

Can you tell me if there were five or more employees working for this clinic while you were being subject to the sexual harassment?

Expert:  LawTalk replied 4 years ago.
Good morning Janet,

I am going to presume that the clinic you worked for had 5 or more employees, including yourself, but less than 15 employees. The numbers are critical as they dictate the remedies you have available.

I've been a licensed CA attorney for nearly 3 decades, and for two of those, I have handled employment discrimination law and litigated cases against employers. Your description of the situation seems to indicate that there may well be discrimination going on based on your sex/sexual harassment.

CA law prohibits harassment and discrimination in the workplace and you do have a legal remedy.

Workplace harassment/discrimination is any unwelcome or unwanted conduct that denigrates or shows hostility or an aversion toward another person on the basis of any characteristic protected by law, which includes an individual's race, color, gender, ethnic or national origin, age, religion, disability, marital status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or other personal characteristic protected by law. A conduct is considered unwelcome if the employee did not solicit, instigate or provoke it, and the employee regards the conduct as undesirable or offensive.

In CA you have two possible avenues of approach to dealing with discrimination. If your goal is to ultimately sue in Federal Court, and your employer employed at least 15 employees, then you will file a complaint with the EEOC.

If you employer did not have at least 15 employees, but did have 5 or more,-then you will file with the CA Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH).

If there were 15 or more employees, and if you want to, you may file with both DFEH and the EEOC as well. You must file a formal complaint of discrimination with the EEOC within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory act, and within one year for the CA DFEH.

You may a formal complaint with the CA Department of Fair Employment and Housing alleging discrimination based on your sex.

To do this you must first make an appointment with the Department to be interviewed, either over the phone or at a local DFEH office. You may call the DFEH at 800-884-1684, or apply on line by using the Department’s "Online Appointment System." The system will guide you through questions to determine whether an appointment is right for you.

Alternatively, you may file a complaint with the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission). If your company has 15 or more employees (the DFEH only requires that there be 5 or more employees), they are prohibited from discriminating against you. To file a complaint with the EEOC, contact the nearest Equal Employment Opportunity Commission field office. To be automatically connected with the nearest office, call (800) 669-4000. EEOC website:

Federal law specifically prohibits discrimination, based upon the Ethnicity, Color, Religion, National Origin, Age, Sex and Disability of an individual, with regard to hiring, promotion and firing.

After you file the complaint, your employer will be prohibited from any retaliatory action against you. The EEOC will investigate your claim, and 180 days after the filing of the complaint you may ask for a "right to sue letter". The EEOC will issue you the letter which gives you the right to institute a private civil action against your employer and seek monetary damages.

You may reply back to me using the Continue the Conversation or Reply to Expert link if you have additional questions; and if you do, I ask that you please keep in mind that I do not know what you may already know or with what you need help, unless you tell me.

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I wish you the best in 2013,