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What is sexual harassment in a California workplace?

Federal and California laws protect workers from sexual harassment in the workplace. The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, or sexual conduct which interferes with the victim's job performance or creates a hostile or offensive work environment.

In general, there are two types of sexual harassment: the creation of a hostile work environment and quid pro quo. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a person in authority requires subordinates to endure sexual harassment, or submit to unwanted sexual advances, as a condition of keeping their job and keeping or obtaining a job benefit, including raises and promotions. A single instance of quid pro quo harassment may be actionable, while hostile work environment sexual harassment is based on a pattern of offensive behavior.

To determine if a hostile work environment exists, the courts will look at whether the conduct complained of was verbal, physical or both; the frequency of the conduct; if the conduct was patently offensive; if the perpetrator of the harassment was a superior or co-worker; if others were involved in the harassment; and if the harassment was directed at one victim. It is important that victims of sexual harassment be familiar with the legal protections and options that may be available to them.

Additionally, victims of workplace sexual harassment should keep in mind that employers are prohibited from retaliating against them for making a sexual harassment complaint. Workers enjoy protections from sexual harassment and have legal options if employers are complicit in sexual harassment or fail to take action against it.

Source: Employment.findlaw.com, "Sexual Harassment at Work," Accessed March 13, 2017

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Law Offices of Allan A. Sigel, P.C.

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