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California Sexual Harassment Law


When you go to work every day, you have the right to assume that you will encounter a protected and comfortable work environment. But if you are the victim of sexual harassment, it is difficult to feel either of those things. There are specific laws in California about sexual harassment. California sexual harassment law prohibits sexual harassment in any form while you are in the workplace, and it also provides supervisors and employers with training on how to spot, deal with and prevent workplace sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and there are also state laws in place to protect California’s workers against harassment. According to the Fair Employment and Housing Act, sexual harassment, which can come in various forms, is strictly prohibited and illegal. There are two main types of workplace conditions that can constitute sexual harassment in California.


Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment?

“Quid pro quo” means “you do this for that.” It’s a form of sexual harassment where someone offers a benefit in exchange for a sexual favor, or they make it either explicitly or implicitly known that if you refuse their sexual request, it could lead to you not getting a deserved promotion, being terminated, or even receiving something like a bad work review when it is unwarranted.

To make a claim for quid pro quo in California, the person who is sexually harassing you must hold a position of authority or be your supervisor or boss. If a co-worker engages in the same requested-favor situation, it isn’t a quid pro quo case; that might instead constitute a hostile work environment situation.


Hostile work environment sexual harassment?

Another type of harassment included in California’s sexual harassment law is called a “hostile work environment.” As opposed to quid pro quo (which requires the other person be in a position of authority over you), any employee can be involved in making your work environment hostile by using sexual conduct that is threatening, intimidating, or that would be unwelcome or offensive to any reasonable person.

To make a claim for a hostile work environment, you do not have to prove that the behavior was specifically directed at you. If there is someone in your office that is making you uncomfortable by their actions, that might be enough to file a sexual harassment lawsuit.

Sexual harassment does not need to be related to sexual advances or even about innuendos that make someone feel uncomfortable. It can be experienced by either a man or a woman. An example of sexual harassment perpetrated on a man is if he is bullied specifically because of his gender. Sexual harassment can go both ways in the workplace and isn’t dependent on the victim’s gender.


How is “unwelcome” conduct defined?

According to California Sexual Harassment law, “unwelcome” conduct is the same as “nonconsensual.” In effect, the sexual behavior does not have the consent of the victim to whom it is being directed. In the same respect, if an employee feels no choice but to consent to the unwelcome advances of their boss, that is also a form of sexual harassment.


What constitutes a “reasonable” person?

Not only does the conduct have to be unwelcome or nonconsensual according to the definitions of California’s sexual harassment law, but you also have to prove that the conduct would be offensive and threatening to any “reasonable” person. The concept of a reasonable person is a legal constraint that means that if any “reasonable” person were in the same situation, they would also perceive the behavior in the same threatening or intimidating way.


Pervasive or severe

In California, to win a sexual harassment claim a California sexual harassment lawyer must be able to prove that the behavior was either pervasive enough or severe enough to make the workplace environment hostile to the person filing the claim. To win their sexual harassment suit in California, the plaintiff must prove that the harassment happened repeatedly enough to make their environment threatening and intimidating and is not based on a single incident.


California training requirements for employers

Larger employers in California are required to hold regular training sessions for their employees due to the Fair Employment and Housing Act. Any company or business employing more than fifty workers is mandated to hold sexual harassment training every two years to both employees and supervisors. Mandatory training is also required for any new hires, and it must be completed within the first six months of their hire date. The addition of training to prevent “abusive conduct” and anti-bullying training were added to the training requirements in January 2015.

If you are a victim of sexual harassment in California, know that it is against the law and you can hold your employer liable. To ensure that you can prove that you were sexually harassed, it is imperative that you hire a California sexual harassment lawyer to prove all the factors required to win your case. Contact USAttorneys.com today to file a suit for sexual harassment, so you can  get back to a friendly and safe workplace as quickly as possible.