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If a coworker displays explicit photos, can I claim harassment?

On one hand, the term "sexual harassment" is commonly understood in most California workplaces. The majority of all employees, whether male or female, know that it is inappropriate for a supervisor to demand sexual favors in exchange for a promotion, for instance.

On the other hand, some scenarios are not so clear. Many workers are unsure whether California's Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects them from more subtle offenses, such as a coworker wearing a shirt with a photo of an unclothed individual on it.

Here is another example:

Sally walks by her coworker Joe's office cubicle and notices that he has erotic posters pinned to the walls. His computer's screensaver also shows several sexually explicit images of women. Sally confidentially reports this to her supervisor and explains that seeing such images makes her feel very uncomfortable. However, her supervisor simply laughs and tells her to "get over it."

In such a situation, Sally may indeed have a strong sexual harassment case. FEHA prohibits workplace personnel from displaying "suggestive objects or pictures, cartoons or posters" that cause offense. Sally's supervisor should have taken action instead of ignoring her concerns.

If you find yourself in a similar situation, don't hesitate to consult a skilled employment law attorney and learn more about your legal rights. A lawyer can listen to your unique story and accurately advise you about whether or not to pursue a lawsuit against your employer. If you do have a valid case, you may be eligible for financial compensation.

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