What Is Considered Sexual Harassment in California?

Employment Law May 22nd, 2023
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Sexual harassment is recognized by both California state and federal law – It is not tolerated within the workplace.


What Is Sexual Harassment?


Sexual harassment can apply to a broad range of situations. It is not just what you say, it can also be visual, physical, and distance-related.

  • For example, a photograph, talking, touching, or getting too close or within someone’s personal space can be sexual harassment.
  • Another example could be looking at someone’s body parts when your eyes should be on their face can be sexually intimidating.

This is a situation that is not about what you meant or didn’t mean. It is about how it is interpreted by others.

As a hard rule – any unwanted sexual advance or innuendo is considered sexual harassment in California.

Another general rule that will escalate a sexual harassment situation is if the situation makes the other person feel threatened, fearful, intimidated, or punished by the situation.

For example, if someone dreads coming to work because of continual sexual advancement – minor or severe – then you may have created an intimidating and hostile work environment based on unwanted sexual advances. That action can be as simple as leering or asking someone out to lunch repeatedly.


Legally Speaking


Trading sexual favors or encounters for work-related rewards is a form of sexual harassment. An employer cannot ask employees to trade sex for rewards such as promotions, days off, vacation requests, or to get out of trouble. That includes sexual relationships between all genders. This form of takes on the physical aspects. Even if the employee is willing to trade sexual favors for a reward, the situation remains sexual harassment, and it can work both ways. The employee can sexually harass a manager or boss. Generally, sexual harassment is employer or manager initiated but not always. Sexual harassment can also occur between any two or more people within a working relationship.

The creation of a hostile work environment is the second form of sexual harassment. There are many ways to create a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment can be a situation where someone feels fearful, intimidated, concerned, afraid, disgusted, etc based on sexual-based situations or encounters. Anytime someone in a work environment has behaviors that cause another worker to feel worried about coming to work because of that behavior, then it could be considered a hostile work environment.


What You Can Do to Stop Sexual Harassment


Employers legally cannot punish you for turning them in for sexual harassment. If you feel threatened or punished by your employer after talking with them about sexual harassment, then contact an employment attorney. At the very least, you can discover if your situation fits the definition and what your legal options are to stop it from happening again.


Contact DLaw If You Are Experiencing Sexual Harassment At Work


DLaw offers employment law services throughout the entire state of California. They help protect employees from illegal workplace actions including sexual harassment. Give them a call at (818) 275-5799 and learn more about your legal rights and options.

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