Your Guide to Sexual Harassment Laws in California

If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, you are definitely not alone. According to one current EEOC study, one out of four every women and one out of every five men have experienced the misfortune of sexual harassment.  

You only need to read the news or do a search of the “me too” hashtag to find endless stories of disturbing conduct, much of which amounts to sexual harassment inside the workplace.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Quid pro quo is a Latin term meaning this for that. The term means the idea of an exchange. In this case, quid pro quo harassment happens when someone conditions your continued employment, hiring, promotion or benefits on your submission to sexual advances or some other kind of sexual behavior. Quid pro quo harassment could be meant as an offer or threat.  This type of sexual harassment is considered extreme enough that a single incident can give rise to liability.

Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

This type of sexual harassment happens when the nature of the offending behavior is so pervasive or severe that it unreasonably interferes with your work, alters the conditions of your employment or makes an intimidating or offensive workplace. You could experience and suffer from a hostile work environment even if the behavior is not directly aimed at you.

A single act of sexual harassment may be extreme enough to be unlawful.Behavior that is less severe might also become so pervasive that it becomes unlawful, even if the single incident on its own wasn’t particularly offensive or hostile. The legal test of whether or not something qualifies as a hostile work environment sexual harassment includes both objective and subjective components.

Who will be liable for sexual harassment claims in California?

Under the California law, an employee who is the perpetrator of the sexual harassment is personally liable for damages to their victim regardless of whether or not the employer was aware or should have known about the harassment.

Employers are held strictly liable if the sexual harassment was at the hands of a supervisor or if the perpetrator of the harassment was the employer. This means that if the harassment was perpetrated by the supervisor, the employer is responsible for the victim’s damage whether or not the employer was aware or should have known about it and regardless of whether or not they took corrective action.

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While some interpretations of California sexual harassment can evoke some uncomfortable laughs, sexual harassment is very far from a laughing matter and could cause serious trauma for its victims. This also does not stop harassers from claiming the offending behavior was just a mere joke. In few cases cases, it might actually be the perpetrator’s misguided intention to be funny.  But it is not just the harasser’s intent that matters. It’s how an objective person would react and the impact of that behavior that results in whether or not the behavior constitutes sexual harassment. 

Do you have a question about sexual harassment laws in California? Click here to contact Von Esch Law today!

Courtesy of Cuselleration