Sexual harassment is prohibited under both state and federal law. The state law prohibitions are found under Government Code Sections 12900 and following, and are referred to as being part of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”). Federal law prohibiting sexual harassment is found in Title VII of the United States Code.
Under the law, there are two forms of prohibited sexual harassment:
-Quid pro quo: Employment decisions or conditions which are contingent on the basis of sexual demands (e.g., I will promote you, in exchange for sexual favors).
-Hostile work environment: Where an employer allows a work environment which negatively affects an employee’s ability to perform his/her work, due to severe or pervasive conditions, which may include unwelcome sexual touching, oral statements of a sexual nature (such as sexual jokes, comments about female body parts), written communications (such as cartoons or nude pictures being sent to the employee, or other physical conduct, which is sexually related.
Sexual demands, touching, joking, and other explicit lewd behavior may all qualify as sexual harassment. Of course, to qualify, the conduct must be offensive to the person complaining, and must objectively be offensive to a reasonable person in the employee’s position.
Employees have the right to work in a workplace free from adverse sexual conditions.
This protection from workplace sexual harassment is covered under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act which applies to all employers with more than 15 employees. Not only are employees shielded from sexual harassment, but Title VII also protects them from retaliation for complaining or being part of an investigation regarding sexual harassment. It is strongly encouraged that you communicate any forms of sexual harassment to a supervisor or work human resources department. If the behavior still persists or your employer does not take steps to stop the offending behavior, you might be able to bring a case forward.
If you need any further clarification regarding Sexual Harassment, please contact us at (310) 477-7767 or fill out the form here.
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