Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment in California

Although sexual harassment in the workplace is a relatively new area of law, it is frequently litigated. Sexual harassment can be roughly divided into two forms – quid pro quo sexual harassment and hostile work environment sexual harassment. Without expert legal assistance, it may be difficult to determine whether you have a valid sexual harassment claim.

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sexual harassment claim with our experienced business lawyers today.

“Quid Pro Quo” vs. “Hostile Work Environment”

In “quid pro quo” sexual harassment, you are offered an employment-related inducement in exchange for sexual favors, or you are threatened with employment-based retaliation (being fired or passed over for promotion, for example) in retaliation for refusing a sexual advance.

“Hostile work environment” sexual harassment involves frequent or pervasive sexual comments, jokes, display of offensive materials, requests for dates, and similar conduct. Generally, this sort of conduct is considered sexual harassment only if it is unwelcome. It is important to note that someone who frequently overhears sexual jokes that the recipient did not find offensive might have a valid sexual harassment claim.

What are some examples of sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment can include any kind of offensive or unwanted behavior that is based on sex, including:
  • Unconsented touching
  • Leering
  • Telling dirty jokes
  • Harassment based on pregnancy or childbirth
  • Repeated display of offensive materials (pornography, for example)
Can my employer retaliate against me for filing a sexual harassment claim or for supporting someone else’s sexual harassment claim?
No. California law prohibits employers from retaliating against an employee who reports sexual harassment or who serves as a witness in some else’s sexual harassment claim. In fact, retaliation is a separate legal claim in addition to the original sexual harassment claim.
Can I sue my employer for sexual harassment committed by a coworker?
Yes, you can sue a coworker for sexual harassment, even without showing any wrongdoing on the part of your employer, as long as the court determines that you are truly an employee and not an independent contractor. If, among other factors, you work regular hours for the same company, you are probably an employee. Our experienced employment lawyers will be able to tell you more.
What is the legal basis for a sexual harassment claim?
The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) allows you to file a state law claim over sexual harassment. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 allows you to file a sexual harassment claim based on federal law. Generally speaking, California state law provides greater protection to harassment victims than federal law.
What are some examples of conduct that is probably not sexual harassment?
  • A single, polite request for a date (repeated unwanted requests could be a problem)
  • Non-sexual comments on a person’s clothing or appearance

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Don’t Settle For Less Than Best
If you believe that you have been sexually harassed, you may need a California sexual harassment attorney to help you determine whether you have an actionable claim. You will definitely need one to navigate the complexities of the California legal system. The sooner you act, the better your chances of receiving fair compensation will be.