Am I Being Sexually Harassed At Work?

What's Considered Sexual Harassment And What You Can Do As A California Employee


Sexual harassment isn't always obvious, which is why many victims don't place complaints even when they have all the right to. That said, knowing if you've been sexually harassed at work can help you take the next step and hold perpetrators accountable. Here's how California Employment Law views and addresses it and what you can do when you experience it.


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As mentioned, sexual harassment can be very subtle and covert. For example, a victim may get suggestive late-night texts or photographs, unsolicited sexually charged comments, or invitations to meetings that evolve into dates instead of being blatantly propositioned for sex. Sexual harassment is now just as likely to occur via email, social media, or other outlets outside of the workplace.

What Is Considered Sexual Harassment and How Does It Happen?


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes workplace sexual harassment illegal. Title VII prohibits two categories of sexual harassment in employers with 15 or more employees:

  1. When a boss asks for sexual favors or engages in other sexual behavior in exchange for a tangible employment action, this is known as quid pro quo harassment.

  2. When an employee is subjected to unwelcome sexual, physical, or verbal conduct that is so severe or pervasive that it affects the employee's working circumstances or creates an abusive work environment, it is referred to as a hostile work environment.

While quid pro quo harassment is very easy to detect, hostile work environment accusations can be more complicated. Harassment occurs when a person engages in one or more of the following behaviors.

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That said, if you already know that you've been harassed, it's best to forward claims so that the acts may not be repeated again. If you're worried about getting confused or making mistakes in the filing process, you should consult with a California Employment Lawyer to help you organize and build your case.

Spotting Inappropriate Behavior

Unwanted kissing, touching of the breasts or genitals, butt slapping, rape, other forms of sexual assault, requests for sexual favors, making sexually explicit comments, uninvited massages, sexually suggestive gestures, catcalls, ogling, or cornering someone in a confined space are all examples of sexual harassment in the workplace.

While overt types of sexual harassment still occur in the workplace, more subtle kinds of harassment are becoming more prevalent. Any of the following activities can be considered sexual harassment if they occur frequently or are serious enough to make an employee feel uncomfortable, intimidated, or distracted to the point of interfering with their work.

Here are a few examples you might want to look out for:

  1. Praises on an employee's attractiveness on a regular basis

  2. Making remarks of an employee's attractiveness while others are present

  3. Talking about one's sex life with an unwilling or uninterested coworker

  4. Inquiring about a coworker's sexual life

  5. Distributing nude or barely dressed images of people in the workplace

  6. Making jokes about sexuality

  7. Sending obscenely sexually provocative texts or emails

  8. Unwanted sexual or romantic presents

  9. Spreading sexual rumors about an employee

  10. Repeated embraces or other unwanted contacts

For your experience to be considered a hostile work environment, the behavior must be offensive to both the employee and a reasonable person in the same situation. Consult with your Labor Law Attorney in California to know whether you have enough grounds to make a sexual harassment claim.


Important Things To Remember About Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

Here are a few important things you have to remember as an employee with a possible harassment claim in California:

  • Harassment can occur as a result of sexist remarks and acts. It's a prevalent assumption that harassment has to be sexual in character to be criminal. However, offensive conduct based on an employee's gender that is severe or pervasive enough to produce an abusive work environment is likewise unlawful under Title VII.

  • For example, if women are pushed to be more "feminine" or live up to other gender stereotypes, are shut out of critical meetings, and have their work sabotaged by their male employees, a workplace may be considered a hostile one.

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  • When customers or clients are harassing you sexually. The majority of people are aware that sexual harassment by a boss or coworker is against the law. On the other hand, an employer has a responsibility under Title VII to safeguard its employees against sexual harassment by third parties.

  • Customers, clients, vendors, business partners, and others are all included. As long as the employer is aware of or should be aware of the harassment, it must take measures to stop it.

  • Sexual harassment has no distinction between men and women. When most people think about sexual harassment, they picture a man bothering a woman. While this is still the most typical occurrence, ladies have harassed men on numerous occasions.

  • Same-sex harassment, whether perpetrated by a man against a man or a woman against a woman, is equally prohibited. It's also not necessary for the harassment to be motivated by sexual desire.


Find A California Labor Lawyer Near Me


Gency.org can help employees find a Contingency Lawyer for Employment Cases in California. No win, no fees! You can complete our submission form for a free case review.

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