Sexual harassment in the workplace in California has become acknowledged as a persistent problem. However, there are still times when a person might not be aware when there is a violation of state employment law with the sexual harassment. There are two different kinds of sexual harassment in the workplace and it is crucial to understand what they are so the next steps can be taken to put a stop to the behavior and perhaps receive compensation in a legal filing.
If there is a request for sexual favors or the harassment is expected to be accepted without complaint in exchange for something, it is known as "quid pro quo." This is Latin for "this for that." If, for example, a person asks another employee for sexual favors in exchange for a promotion, to keep a job, to be granted a job, or another kind of benefit, it is illegal and will fall into the category of quid pro quo.
The second kind of harassment is if there is a hostile work environment. This happens if there are comments or behaviors in the workplace and the person on the receiving end of them or someone who overhears them has the work he or she does is hindered by it. This can lead to hostility, intimidation, or being offended at work. It is important to remember that it does not necessarily have to be the person to whom the behavior was directed who files a complaint. Simply being nearby and witnessing the behavior falls into state employment law for sexual harassment.
To be unlawful, the sexual harassment must be severe or pervasive. By that, it means that the behavior is altering the conditions of employment and leads to an abusive work environment. It does not have to be repeated to be considered against the law. It can happen once and if it is severe or pervasive, that is sufficient for a complaint.
Those who are either victims or are witnesses to sexual harassment at work should know the two categories of the behavior. To consider filing a case for compensation due to sexual harassment, a legal professional experienced in all aspects of state employment law can help.
Source: dfeh.ca.gov, "Sexual Harassment," accessed on Aug. 8, 2017