Sexual harassment at work is a form of unlawful sex discrimination. There are several key phrases in this definition that are important to understanding your rights and any potential legal claims you may have:. To be illegal, sexual harassment must be unwelcome. For this reason, it is important to communicate verbally, in writing, or by your actions to the harasser that the conduct makes you uncomfortable and that you want it to stop.
Many different kinds of verbal, physical, nonverbal or visual conduct of a sexual nature may be sexual harassment.
Here are some examples:. Sexual harassment does not have to be sexually suggestive. Harassing conduct can also be unlawful if based on your sex or gender.
For example, if you are a woman working as a carpenter on an otherwise all-male job, and you are the only one who is singled out for harsh criticism and verbal abuse even though your job performance is the same as your male co-workers, such conduct may be a form of unlawful sexual harassment.
It does not have to be both. So, a number of relatively minor separate incidents may add up to sexual harassment if the incidents negatively affect your work environment. How many times did the incidents occur? How long has the conduct been going on? Have other people of my same sex or gender also been treated this way? But even if your employer does not take some action that changes the status of your employment or directly results in you losing money which presumably would happen if you lost your job, were demoted, or had your hours cutyou may still have a claim for unlawful sexual harassment if the conduct unreasonably interferes with your Physical verbal or nonverbal sexual harassment in the workplace should be reported to a performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
For example, it may be illegal sexual harassment if repeated sexual comments make you so uncomfortable at work that your performance suffers or if you decline professional opportunities because it will put you "Physical verbal or nonverbal sexual harassment in the workplace should be reported to a" contact with the harasser.
The laws against sexual harassment are designed to protect you from harassment by your boss, your supervisors, your co-workers, and customers or clients that you have to deal with at work. These laws apply to both men and women, and prohibit sexual harassment whether it is directed at someone of the same or the opposite sex.
Title VII applies to most private and public employers, labor organizations, employment agencies, and joint employer-union apprenticeship programs with 15 or more employees.
FEHA applies to private public employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, state licensing boards, and state and local governments that have 1 or more employees. Like California, most states have a law that makes sexual harassment — and other forms of sex discrimination — illegal. Not only is sexual harassment against the law, so is retaliating punishing someone for complaining about sexual harassment or for supporting or participating in an investigation or other legal action related to sexual harassment.
For example, if you complain about sexual harassment and are forced out on leave while the harasser continues to work, or you are reassigned to a less desirable position after you write a letter describing sexual harassment of someone else that you witnessed, these are potentially forms of unlawful retaliation.
Employers covered by the federal or state laws prohibiting sexual harassment are required to take reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct sexual harassment that occurs on the job. The same may be true if an employer has lawful policies, and trains employees about them, but then fails to adequately investigate sexual harassment complaints once they are made. When you are deciding what to do, remember that every situation is different.