Sexual Harassment – How is it Defined in California?

California labor law attorney Neil Shouse explains what qualifies as sexual harassment in California, and what victims of sexual harassment can do to fight back.

California law recognizes two forms of sexual harassment: “quid pro quo” and “hostile work environment.”

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is when an employer or supervisor offers some benefit or special treatment to an employee or subordinate, in exchange for a sexual act, or anything with sexual connotations such as going on a date. For example a supervisor could offer a raise, or a promotion, or even offer to not tell the boss about some misdeed the employee committed, in exchange for sex, romantic involvement, or photographs of a sexual nature.

A hostile work environment occurs after persistent unwanted behavior that your boss or supervisor fails to correct. This situation can be created in a number of ways, and doesn’t necessarily have to come from the boss or supervisor themselves. The hostile work environment may be created by a co-worker, a costumer, a client, or any other person that the employee is forced to interact with because of their job. The unwanted behavior could be physical touching, or it could be persistent comments of a sexual nature.

The strongest cases for sexual harassment are those with written evidence such as emails or text messages, or witnesses such as co-workers who are willing to attest to the harassment. And very strong cases occur if the victim complained about the behavior to their company, and made a record of it, but the company still did not correct the situation.

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If you or a loved one has suffered harassment in the workplace we invite you to contact us at Shouse Law Group. We can provide a free consultation in office or by phone. We have local offices in Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley, Pasadena, Long Beach, Orange County, Ventura, San Bernardino, Rancho Cucamonga, Riverside, San Diego, Sacramento, Oakland, San Francisco, San Jose and throughout California.


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