What Is Sexual Harassment?

California’s Fair Employment Housing Act (FEHA) makes sexual harassment in the workplace illegal. But, defining sexual harassment can be difficult. Sexual harassment typically takes two different forms. The more widespread form is where the harasser creates a hostile work environment by behaving in a way that is offensive or abusive towards you because of your sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. The second type is quid pro quo harassment where benefits of employment are conditioned on sexual favors. Either type of harassment violates the law.

Sexual Harassment Is Offensive or Abusive Conduct in the Workplace

Sexual Harassment Attorneys in San Francisco

Harassment is conduct that communicates an offensive message to the harassed employee. The hostile or abusive conduct must be severe or pervasive so that it makes the work environment intolerable.

Sexual Harassment Includes a Wide Range of Conduct

Sexual harassment takes many forms. It can be verbal, physical or visual conduct. The harassing conduct may be sexual or nonsexual in nature. What make behavior harassing is that it creates a hostile or offensive working environment for the harassed employee.

Sexual Harassment Need Not Be “Sexual” to be “Illegal”

It is not necessary that the harassing conduct be sexual in nature. Sexual harassment can include intimidation or hostility directed at an employee because of the employee’s sex or gender. The same conduct can be harassing for men, women and people who identify as non-binary.

Sexual Harassment Includes Same-Sex Harassment

Sexual harassment can occur between members of the same sex. Sexual harassment includes conduct directed at an employee because of the employee’s sexual orientation or perceived sexual orientation.

Sexual Harassment Is Unwelcome

Harassing conduct must be unwelcome. Harassment can be unwelcomed even if an employee agrees to have an affair with the harasser or allows the harasser to engage in the offensive behavior.

If you are not sure whether you need a sexual harassment lawyer, let us help you decide. Call us at one of our offices in the San Francisco Bay Area at (415) 453-4740 or (510) 978-4880, or contact us for a free consultation. With offices in Oakland, San Francisco, and San Anselmo, we are conveniently located for employees living in the San Francisco Bay Area, including Alameda and San Francisco Counties.