Sexual harassment is illegal in California workplaces. However, not everything “sexual” in the workplace rises to the level of “sexual harassment”. It is important to be able to determine what type of behavior rises to the level of harassment, such that you, the employee, are able to bring a successful sexual harassment claim.

In California, the Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits sexual harassment in the workplace. Whether that person is paid or unpaid, such as an intern, does not matter. While there is no bright line rule defining what sexual harassment looks like, it can be broken down into two categories:

1.     Hostile work environment

2.     Quid pro quo sexual harassment

Hostile work environment

Hostile Environment harassment is where an offensive work environment is created by conduct such as staring at someone, making sexual comments and jokes, or physically touching or blocking a person in an intimidating manner.  The harassment is unlawful regardless of whether it is motivated by sexual desire. ⁠ The same conduct can be harassing for men, women and people who identify as non-binary. Sexual harassment can also occur between members of the same sex.

Quid pro quo

Quid pro quo harassment, AKA, tit for tat, is where decisions are conditioned on sexual favors. These sexual favors can be in return for a benefit, such as a promotion, or in the form of a threat, which may involve a worker being fired for not performing a sexual act on a supervisor. These kinds of violations can be stated expressly or implied. Indeed, hinting at a job benefit in exchange for sexual favors can constitute quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Sexual Harassment Is Unwelcome

There are several factors your attorney will look at when determining whether you have a strong case. Many cases of workplace sexual harassment include:

–       unwanted sexual advances

–       sexual insults or taunts

–       unwanted intrusive questions about your private life or your body

–       pressure to go along with the sexual behavior to keep your job or advance within the company

–       fear of being fired if you do not go along with the sexual acts

–       repeated touching without consent

This list is not exhaustive. To discuss your potential harassment case with an experienced employment lawyer at no cost to you, contact the legal team at LOEAB Law today.