Sexual harassment is a serious issue in California that can create an offensive or hostile work environment for those subjected to it. Unfortunately, those being harassed may be unaware they can be protected from such conduct or may be unsure as to whether the conduct they are subjected to constitutes sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment occurs in the workplace when an employee is subjected to offensive language that is sexual in nature, or physical acts that are sexually related. Sexual harassment typically comes in two forms, quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Quid pro quo harassment is present when an employee is requested to perform or permit a sexual act and their refusal will have a negative impact on their employment status. A hostile work environment is created when an employee encounters verbal or physical harassment on an ongoing basis to such an extent that it makes their workplace extremely uncomfortable.
Sexual harassment can consist of a specific incident. It can also occur over time through numerous actions that add up to harassment. Other things to remember about sexual harassment are that those alleging such harassment do not have to be the intended target of such conduct; it can be perpetrated by supervisors, co-workers, and non-employees; and it can happen to both men and women.
Those subjected to sexual harassment can raise the issue with their supervisor, human resources or compliance department to achieve a desired outcome. The victim may also seek to pursue a sexual harassment claim in the legal system.
Source: Findlaw, "Sexual Harassment Facts," accessed on Apr. 19, 2015