What Makes Sexual Harassment at Work Illegal in California?

Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Lawyers Explain CA Harassment Laws

The Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers of Kesluk, Silverstein & Jacob believe in educating California employees on how the law defines sexual harassment, so that they may recognize and properly react to this illegal and career-threatening conduct. Acts of sexual harassment at work may seem obvious when they manifest as inappropriate touching or as requests for sexual favors. However, sexual harassment in the workplace may be more difficult to discern in some cases. The enforcement of federal and California sexual harassment laws hold employers accountable for maintaining a safe environment free of pervasive workplace harassment.

If you have been victimized by sexual harassment in the workplace, or by a person with whom you have established a professional relationship, speak with our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers as soon as possible to schedule a confidential free consultation. We can answer your questions regarding whether your employer reacted appropriately to your complaints, about filing a sexual harassment claim and what types of damages are available to victims of workplace sexual harassment.

How Does California Law Define Sexual Harassment?

The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) governs California sexual harassment laws. Under FEHA, sexual harassment is defined as unwanted and sexually suggestive verbal or physical advances directed toward a person with whom the harasser has a professional relationship.

While sexual harassment can be common among those who share a work environment, such as co-workers and managerial staff, it is also possible for the victim to have a different type of professional relationship with their harasser. The perpetrator may be the victim’s physician, therapist, professor or landlord.

What are Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Acts of sexual harassment in the workplace according to California’s sexual harassment laws can be classified into two groups:

Quid pro quo sexual harassment refers to an exchange between supervisor and subordinate or employer and employee. A victim may be coerced to comply with sexual advancements to gain better career opportunities, higher pay or, in some cases, to simply keep their job. The following are a few examples of quid pro quo sexual harassment:

  • A manager threatening a bad performance review upon an employee who denies a request for a date
  • A supervisor offering a raise on the basis that a subordinate accepts sexual advances
  • A boss providing better work opportunities to an employee in exchange for sexual favors

The second category of sexual harassment recognized by FEHA is known as providing a hostile work environment. In a hostile work environment case, the victim is often made to feel uncomfortable, threatened or intimidated by the work environment provided by their employer or where professional services are sought. Examples hostile work environments include:

  • Hanging sexually explicit posters, calendars or photos in the workplace that interfere with the ability of an employee to perform job duties
  • Unrelenting touching, bumping into or brushing against an employee in a suggestive manner that is unwelcomed
  • Recurring and pervasive flirting, winking or staring, whistling or obviously “checking out” a co-worker that a reasonable personal would consider offensive
  • Intimidating, threatening, abusive behavior or routine teasing that goes beyond being rude, casual humor or an isolated incident
  • An employee suffering a “constructive discharge,” or being forced to quit due to an intolerable workplace

If you have been forced to work in an environment where you were inappropriately touched, have been spoken to in a derogatory way or you witnessed an act of sexual harassment at work, speak with our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers for information on filing a sexual harassment lawsuit.

What to Do about Sexual Harassment at Work in Los Angeles

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing allows victims to file a sexual harassment claim up to one year after an incident occurred. It is important to seek legal advice from a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney if you have experienced workplace harassment. How and when you react may affect whether you may be able to collect back pay or damages. Our attorneys also made this resource about what to do if you are sexually harassed on the job.

Speak with our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers today to schedule a free consultation if sexual harassment in the workplace affected your livelihood, emotional or physical well-being. We will work to make sure this behavior stops and your rights are upheld.