What You Should Know About Workplace Sexual Harassment in California

Author: Mesriani Law Group
Posted on: January 4, 2021

No one has the right to touch you without your consent or make you feel uncomfortable. In California, employment laws protect workers from unwanted sexual advances – whether it’s physical or verbal harassment. Workplace sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Types of Workplace Sexual Harassment

In California, the two types of workplace sexual harassment are:

  • Quid pro quo harassment
  • Hostile work environment

Both types of sexual harassment share a common element – it’s unwelcomed. This means that if a coworker physically touches you without your consent or makes any unwelcomed sexually suggestive remarks, it’s considered sexual harassment.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Quid pro quo is the Latin phrase that means “this for that”. The phrase captures the idea of exchanging “something for something”. At the workplace, quid pro quo occurs when someone’s hiring, continued employment, or promotion is dependent on an exchange of sexual favors.

Quid pro quo harassment can be delivered as an offer or a threat. Either way, this type of harassment is illegal in Los Angeles and throughout the state of California.

Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment

The most common form of workplace sexual harassment is hostile work environment harassment. Hostile work environment harassment happens when the offending behavior is so severe or pervasive that it creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile work environment. In other words, for the conduct to be considered a hostile work environment sexual harassment, the behavior must be:

  • Unwelcomed
  • Based on your sex or gender
  • Severe or pervasive

If the behavior is severe enough, a single occurrence of sexual harassment may be sufficient to be considered a hostile work environment. That means, the more severe the behavior, the less frequently it has to occur to be considered sexual harassment.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment can occur in either a verbal or physical form. The most important thing to remember is that for an action to be considered sexual harassment, it must be unwanted and based on your sex or gender.

Examples of verbal sexual harassment include:

  • Making catcalls or whistles
  • Unwanted jokes of a sexual nature
  • Inappropriate comments about your sex or gender
  • Discussing someone’s sex life
  • Spreading rumors about someone’s sex life
  • Requesting sexual favors
  • Unwelcomed terms of endearment such as baby, honey, or sweetie
  • Repeatedly asking someone for dates or other sexual favors

Examples of physical sexual harassment include:

  • “Accidentally” brushing up against someone
  • Physically blocking someone’s path or cornering someone against a wall
  • Unwanted physical contact such as hugging, grabbing, or hair stroking
  • Frequently following someone around
  • Staring at someone in a sexual way such as looking at their body up and down
  • Giving someone an unwanted shoulder or neck massage

Contact a Sexual Harassment Attorney Today

Sexual harassment cases can leave victims emotionally and physically damaged. And while standing up to your employer may feel daunting, you don’t have to do it alone. Our Los Angeles attorneys are experienced with handling harassment cases and can help you get the justice you deserve. Contact Mesriani Law Group today for a legal consultation.