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What is sexual harassment in the workplace?

Unfortunately, sexual harassment is a very real problem in many workplaces in California. While some people seem to think that the treatment is okay in certain types of work environments, the truth is that sexual harassment is never okay, and all employers have a duty to prevent it.

Now that you know that sexual harassment is never legal in the workplace, you may be wondering what type of conduct constitutes sexual harassment. 

Unlawful sexual harassment occurs when an applicant or employee is “harassed” based on that person’s sex, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Sexual harassment includes “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature,” the EEOC explains.

However, illegal harassment does not have to be sexual in nature. I can also include someone being harassed based on his or her sex. It’s also important to note that both women and men can be victims of sexual harassment, and the victim and harasser can be members of the same sex.

The EEOC also addresses the extent of this treatment that has to take place in order to be considered harassment and not just teasing or incidents that are inappropriate, yet isolated. In order for the treatment to be considered illegal harassment, it must create a hostile or offensive work environment because of its severity or frequency.

Additionally, the treatment can be considered illegal harassment when it leads to an adverse employment decision such as being fired.

Finally, a harasser can be a workplace superior, but the harasser can also be a co-worker or a customer or client of the business where the victim works.

If you are being mistreated at work, the best thing to do is talk to an experienced employment law attorney. Our firm has represented male and female workers of all ages in California and we can meet with you confidentially to go over your options.

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