California Sexual Harassment Law

Sexual Harassment in its simplest form can be described as "unwanted sexual conduct." California and Federal law describes two different types of sexual harassment.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when promotions, salary, work assignments, performance expectations, jobs benefits and other conditions of employment are dependent on sexual favors for a boss, supervisor, or employer who is in a position to make decisions in the workplace. Quid pro quo harassment also occurs when a person declines sexual advances and as a result, the person's employment conditions get worse. If an employer makes a remark such as "if you want to get a job, you should have sex with me" quid pro quo sexual harassment has occurred.

A more common type of sexual harassment is known as hostile environment harassment. This occurs when an employee's work place is made hostile by abusive verbal or physical misconduct. While these types of sexual harassment cases are decided on a case-by-case basis, conduct that is sexual or based on gender, unwelcomed, and severe enough to restrict an employee's ability to work may warrant litigation.

The Fair Employment and Housing Act defines other types of sexual harassment in addition to quid pro quo and hostile environment, such as gender or sex-based harassment. Harassment of this type would involve a supervisor who displays conduct that shows hostility towards a specific gender even if the conduct is not sexual in nature. An example of this would be a male supervisor making a comment like "women should not work this type of job."

Pursuant to California Civil Code section 51.9, sexual harassment in any form can occur in an employment setting or when there is a professional relationship between two people. A professional relationship could involve doctors and their patients, therapists and patients, or an attorney and their clients. Under California Government Code section 12940(k), employers must take steps to prevent discrimination and harassment in a workplace from happening.

If you think that a coworker or loved one is a victim of sexual harassment, The Santa Barbara Injury Law Group can review your case and help decide an appropriate course of action.