Your Guide to Sexual Harassment Laws in California

If you have been harassed sexually while you are work, you’re most likely not alone in this. According to one current of the EEOC studies, twenty five percent of women and twenty percent of men have been sexually harassed on the job.  

One only has to watch the news channels or do a search of the “me too” hashtag to discover a large number experiences of disturbing behavior, much of which have lead to sexual harassment inside the workplace.

Quid Pro Quo Harassing

This is a Latin originated term that means this for this or this for that. The term means the idea of exchanging something. In this case, quid pro quo harassment happens when a colleague conditions your continued employment, hiring, benefits or position promotion on submitting to desired sexual acts or some other kind of sexual advance. This type of harassing can be meant as threatening. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is seen as extreme enough that just one occurrence make the company liable.

Hostility While at Work

This type of sexual harassment happens when the sexual harassment act is so prevalent or extreme that it interrupts your work flow, changes the condition of your workplace or frequently offends you. It is possible to experience hostility even if the act isn’t even directed towards you.

Just one act of harassing someone sexually might be severe enough to be illegal. The acts that are less extreme 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