A person's work environment should be a safe and comfortable place for everyone. This includes people who have become victims of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is not just unwanted physical advances. It is much more than that. There are two types of sexual harassment that could possibly be proven and penalized in California.
The first type of sexual harassment is the one thought about most frequently: quid pro quo, which includes unwanted physical advances. For example, if a person's boss tells their employee, if they have sex with them, they will give them a raise. This is the most commonly thought of type of sexual harassment.
Hostile work environment is the lesser known type of sexual harassment. This type of harassment occurs when an employee makes jokes, threats or has photographs that are sexual in nature. The behavior creates an environment where another employee feels uncomfortable, thereby creating the hostile work environment. Hostile work environment is subject to the harassed employee's opinion of the behavior. Therefore, if the harassed employee believes the sexual commentary to be hostile, than it is. This is true, even if the other employee did not mean to harass the other employee.
Court room rulings on sexual harassment vary from state to state and have become more complicated in the more recent years. It is important that, if there is a concern about sexual harassment, then you report it to human resources. A track record of complaints typically stands up in court, if a lawsuit is filed. If the business did nothing to remedy the harassment, they could be liable for damages.
Source: FindLaw.com, "Sexual Harassment, What is it?," accessed on Sept. 8, 2014