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What constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace?

On Behalf of | Jun 29, 2023 | Sexual Harassment

Employers should create respectful and safe working environments. Everyone has a right to work in a place that is free from any form of harassment, especially sexual harassment.

In California, the Fair Employment and Housing Act sets the standards regarding workplace conduct, including guidelines that define and prohibit sexual harassment.

Unwanted sexual advances or conduct

One form of sexual harassment happens when someone makes unwanted sexual advances or engages in any other kind of physical, verbal or visual sexual conduct. This can include inappropriate touching, suggestive comments or displaying explicit materials in the workplace. If you find that such behavior is creating an uncomfortable or hostile work environment, you might be experiencing sexual harassment.

Quid pro quo harassment

Quid pro quo, Latin for “this for that”, refers to situations where employers make employment decisions dependent on your submission to or rejection of sexual conduct. For instance, a supervisor promising a promotion in return for a date or threatening job loss if you do not engage in sexual activity is sexual harassment. Such practices violate FEHA and are not permissible in any California workplace.

Sexually charged comments or jokes

Inappropriate or offensive comments, jokes or gestures of a sexual nature, whether directed toward you or shared in your presence, can create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. Even if the comments or jokes are not explicitly sexual, but they are about a person’s sex or gender, it can still count as harassment if it fosters a hostile work environment.

Sexual harassment in the California workplace can take many forms and can occur in a variety of scenarios. No one should ever have to endure this kind of behavior at work, and California has laws like FEHA in place to protect you. You have the right to report any behavior you perceive as sexual harassment and appropriate action should follow.

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