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Sexual harassment in the California workplace

While sexual discrimination in the California workplace may sometimes be difficult to prove, that doesn't make it less of an issue. Typically, sexual harassment takes the form of lewd comments or inappropriate behavior that create a work environment so hostile that the employee is no longer able to perform his or her job. There are different types of sexual harassment in the workplace, though, and all of them are illegal.

One type occurs when a supervisor or employer requests or expects sexual favors from an employee in exchange for a pay raise or a promotion. Likewise, the supervisor might demand a sexual relationship and threaten retaliation or even dismissal if the expectations are not met. This type of harassment has traditionally been referred to as quid pro quo harassment.

Hostile work environment harassment, on the other hand, occurs when sexual images, language or threats are present in the workplace. This can take the form of sexual intimidation, but even offensive jokes can be considered harassment if they are inappropriate and frequent enough. If the unsuitable sexualized conduct occurs on a frequent enough basis that one or more employees feel threatened or distraught, this may still constitute sexual harassment.

When someone in California is a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, legal recourse is available. If the victim has already clearly stated that the behavior is offensive and must be stopped, and the demands are ignored, there are typically procedures in the workplace for pursuing a sexual harassment claim. In the case that no such policies or procedures exist, the next step would be to discuss the issue with a supervisor. If the individual has gone through the proper company channels to address any sexual harassment and the issue has not been resolved, the worker has every right to contact an attorney, who will be able to offer advice on how best to proceed.

Source: FindLaw, "Sexual Harassment", Accessed on Feb. 13, 2017

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