Sexual Harassment and Hostile Work Environment


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There is no reason ever to tolerate sexual harassment or hostile work environment. It is damaging and unacceptable.  It can make it intolerable for an employee to be at work, deal with coworkers or have professional and respectful relationship with supervisors.  We encourage employees to report sexual harassment and, even necessary, to sue their employer for maintaining a sexually hostile work environment.

What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. Sex discrimination in the workplace, including sexual harassment, is prohibited by both federal and California law.

Types of Sexual Harassment.

According to California and federal sexual harassment laws, there are two types of sexual harassment exist:

Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment. Hostile work environment takes place when unwelcome verbal, physical, or visual conduct of a sexual nature unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment. Also, sexual harassment may take the form of an economic quid pro quo where an employee’s subjection to sexual conduct is linked to the grant or denial of job benefits, such as getting or retaining a job, or receiving a favorable performance review or promotion. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a federal agency charged with promulgating regulations with respect to Title VII, defines quid pro quo harassment as existing when:

• submission to [the conduct complained of] is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment; or

• submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual.

Therefore, the essence of the quid pro quo theory of sexual harassment is that “a supervisor relies upon his apparent or actual authority to extort sexual consideration from an employee.”

The typical quid pro quo case involves some form of sexual advance or proposition by a supervisor with an express or implied threat that if the employee refuses, he or she will be terminated or demoted, or lose other job-related benefits.  Alternatively, the employee may be promised better treatment, such as a promotion, transfer, raise or favorable recommendation, if the employee submits to the sexual advances.

Contact a Sexual Harassment Attorney

If inappropriate sexual conduct is affecting you in any way, you should always express your discontent and reject that behavior. If you are considering initiating a sexual harassment lawsuit, speak to a sexual harassment lawyer from our law firm. You will be happy to advise you on all aspects of your situation, from documenting the facts of the case to recovering the full extent of your damages.