Workplace harassment on the basis of sex is prohibited under the law. Harassment occurs when someone engages in unwelcome conduct in the workplace that creates an environment that is hostile, intimidating or offensive. For example, a co-worker or supervisor may say or do things that make an employee feel uncomfortable and/or offended. Also, an employee may be subjected to touching, non consensual physical contact or physical intimation on a daily basis that negatively affects your job performance.
As a victim of sexual harassment, an employee may feel a whole range of emotions such as stress, frustration, powerlessness, hopelessness, anger, anxiety, depression, and loss of self-esteem. An employee may decide not to show up to work because of anxiety or depression as a result of the harassment.
Employees are usually reluctant to report sexual harassment due to fear of being retaliated against or fired. It is illegal to retaliate against an employee for reporting unlawful sexual harassment. California employers have an obligation to stop harassment in the workplace. California employers who become aware of a harassment problem must conduct an immediate and thorough investigation, as well as take appropriate steps to correct the problem.
If you have questions about sexual harassment, please call Kletter Law at 415.434.3400 or schedule an appointment to meet with us.
We can help you understand sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is illegal and can take two forms:
- “Quid Pro Quo” (“this for that”): Occurs when a supervisor offers some job benefit (e.g. promotion, pay raise) in exchange for sexual favors. It also occurs when an employee is punished in some way because he or she refused to submit to a supervisor's request for sexual favors.
- “Hostile Work Environment”: Occurs when an employee is subjected to unwanted sexual conduct that is sufficiently consistent and pervasive or severe to alter the terms or conditions of the employment. For example, the sexual conduct may unreasonably interfere with work performance or create an abusive, intimidating or offensive work environment. Even non-employees such as a customer or vendor can create a hostile workplace and the employer may be liable for their harassing conduct.
People often think that sexual harassment is when a man harasses a woman because of her gender. However, it can also involve people of the same sex or a woman harassing a man. Examples of sexual harassment in the workplace include:
- Touching any part of the employee´s body that makes the employee uncomfortable (e.g. back, shoulders, legs, hugging);
- Leering or constantly staring at the employee;
- Sexually suggestive comments;
- Repeatedly asking out on dates;
- Sexual innuendos;
- Comments about anatomy;
- Repeatedly asking questions regarding the employee´s personal life;
- Showing pornography;
- Sending inappropriate e-mails, texts or links; and
- Excessive attention or flattery.
Please contact us immediately if you have questions about sexual harassment.