Sexual harassment in the California workplace is defined by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission as the interference with a person’s job performance by delivering unwanted sexual advances or committing acts of a sexual nature. Workplace sexual harassment can also include creating a work environment that is intimidating or uncomfortable.

Laws that protect employees

State and federal employment laws offer protections against sexual harassment for employees. Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act identifies this type of harassment as sex discrimination. The two types of sexual harassment recognized by Title VII include hostile work environment and quid pro quo.

Defining sexual harassment

Quid pro quo sexual harassment happens when a supervisor lets it be known to a subordinate that they must comply with sexual advances as a way to keep their job, receive a promotion, or enjoy some other benefit of employment.

Sexual harassment that falls under the hostile work environment category is when an offensive or abusive work environment is created as a result of unwelcome sexual conduct. Courts will consider factors like conduct frequency, whether the aggressor is a supervisor or co-worker, and whether other people joined the initial perpetrator in the offensive behavior when considering a hostile environment sexual harassment case.

Title VII only applies to companies that employ 15 or more workers. Companies with less than this number of employees are subject to state regulations when a claim of sexual harassment takes place. If either hostile work environment or quid pro quo sexual harassment allegations are proven, the employer may be held accountable.

Help with filing a claim

Sexual harassment in the workplace can leave a singled-out employee feeling powerless and alone. Many times, the employee chooses to suffer the harassment in silence for fear of losing their job. Individuals who face sexual harassment in the workplace may find the help they need through a consultation with an employment law attorney.