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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Posted on in Employment

San Jose sexual harassment lawyer, employer liability, San Jose employment law attorney, sexual harassment in the workplace, California employersSexual harassment in the workplace is illegal. Yet what constitutes sexual harassment in California? Can a California employer be held liable for acts of sexual harassment committed by an employee? Do employers in California have an affirmative duty to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace?

The aim of this article is to answer these and other commonly asked questions by providing a brief overview of California’s sexual harassment in the workplace laws. However, this area of employment law can be quite complicated and any case specific questions should be directed to a local San Jose sexual harassment lawyer.

Sexual Harassment Defined

The California Chamber of Commerce’s website notes that sexual harassment (i.e. unwelcome physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature) can include a wide variety of conduct including asking for sexual favors, sexual touching, and offensive language or posters. Such conduct is generally not illegal if the action(s) at issue was merely simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that were not very serious. However, such harassment is generally deemed to be illegal when its frequency or severity creates a hostile or offensive work environment or results in an adverse employment decision.

Additionally, it is important to note that sexual harassment in the workplace can occur between any two people (regardless of the sex of the victim or the harasser) and that the harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a coworker, or even someone who is not employed by the same company (for example, a client or a customer).

Under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, there are two different types of workplace sexual harassment: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs in the workplace when a supervisor requires a subordinate of theirs to submit to sexual advances by threatening the subordinate with an adverse employment decision (for example, firing them or giving them an unfavorable review) if they fail to comply.

On the other hand, anyone (regardless of whether or not the victim is their subordinate) can engage in hostile work environment harassment by pestering their victim with sexual advances of such a frequency or severity that a hostile work environment is created.

Employer Liability in California

It is important to note that California employers can be held liable, under certain circumstances, for incidents of sexual harassment committed by their employees. This is because California employers have an affirmative duty to take reasonable steps in order to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace and to promptly correct workplace sexual harassment if it does occur.

Additionally, California employers are required to have and distribute a written harassment, discrimination, and retaliation prevention policy to its employees. Our state also imposes additional duties on California employers with 50 or more employees—for example such employers must have their California supervisors participate in at least two hours of sexual harassment training every two years.

Let Us Help You with Your Case

Whether you are an employee who has been treated unfairly or you are an employer whose rights have been violated, the experienced employment lawyers of Jachimowicz Law Group, Attorneys at Law, Inc. are here to help. Our firm represents clients in a wide variety of employment law cases throughout Northern California. If you would like to discuss your case and legal options with a knowledgeable San Jose employment law attorney committed to fighting for your rights, contact our office today.









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