California Workplace Sexual Harassment Statistics

March 30, 2022

As any sexual harassment lawyer can attest, sexual harassment in the workplace is a significant issue that is experienced worldwide. Recent studies and statistics have proven the prevalence of this severely underreported offense occurring in workplaces across the country.

This article will identify workplace sexual harassment statistics for:

  • The State of California
  • The City of Los Angeles
  • The United States in its entirety

We will also discuss the frequency of reported claims, what identifies as sexual harassment, what quid pro quo sexual harassment is, and the California laws regarding sexual harassment prevention training.

How many people are sexually harassed or assaulted in California each year?

In California, it has been recognized that incidences of sexual harassment are above the national average. The statistics show that it is 5 percent higher for women and 10 percent higher for men.

The California study also revealed that those who identify as LGBTQ+ and males who were born outside of the United States have greater chances of being sexually harassed.

Other findings from this study include:

  • More than 86 percent of women in California have reported some form of sexual harassment or assault, whereas the national average is 81 percent.
  • Fifty-three percent of men in California have reported sexual harassment or assault, whereas the national average is 43 percent.
  • Four out of five women in the LGBTQ+ community have experienced sexual assault compared to one in four straight women.
  • Three out of four gay or bisexual men have experienced sexual harassment compared to one of three straight men.

How many people are sexually harassed in California workplaces each year?

Studies have shown between the years 2010 and 2020, California averaged 398.7 sexual harassment cases per year. Throughout this period, California accounted for 5.5 percent of all cases filed through the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EECO) and the state and local Fair Employment Practice Agencies.

Based on reports released by the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the statistics for workplace sexual harassment in 2021 across the state of

California included:

  • 203 charges filed by females, or 2.7 percent of the female population of California
  • 64 charges filed by males, or 0.8 percent of the male population of California
  • Five charges were filed by employees of unreported genders, or .1 percent of the people of California

California lands at number four out of the top 10 states with the highest workplace sexual harassment charges occurring between 2010 and 2020 (The United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

The most recent report in 2020 states that there were 313 sexual harassment charges filed for incidents within the workplace across California.

How many people are sexually harassed in the Los Angeles workplace each year?

In 2018, the Los Angeles Personnel Department conducted a survey inquiring about sexual harassment in the workplace. While there were 45,000 employees in the city at the time, a sample of 4,205 employees responded.

Findings revealed that 18 percent of those who responded experienced sexual harassment. According to the study, 725 people (17 percent) reported that the harassment occurred during working hours while the remainder took place while off the clock.

Half of the 18 percent who reported that they experienced these incidents revealed that the incidents went unreported. In addition, more than 48 percent of the respondents stated that they didn’t have readily available access to contact information for their company’s “sexual harassment counselor” or the personnel responsible for addressing and following up on these claims.

How many people are sexually harassed in the workplace nationwide each year?

CNBC conducted a study on the prevalence of sexual harassment in the workplace and found that one in five Americans have experienced a sexual harassment incident.

According to the EEOC, 45 percent of employees who reported a claim stated that it was sex-based. It was also found that of the female population employed in America, 9 percent are more likely to report claims than men.

Furthermore, the EEOC revealed that:

  • Of the employed women population, 25 percent experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.
  • Of the employed LGBTQ+ population who openly spoke about their sexuality/gender identity, 35 percent experienced harassment.
  • Of the employed LGBTQ+ population, 58 percent reported that they heard derogatory and offensive comments regarding their sexuality or gender identity.
  • Verbal and/or physical abuse was committed towards 7-41 percent of the employed LGBTQ+ community in the workplace. This statistic also includes workplace vandalism.

How many sexual harassment incidents in the workplace go unreported?

The EEOC reports an average of 7,221 workplace sexual harassment charges each year nationwide.

It has been revealed that three out of four workplace incidents go unreported. The significant statistic of 70 percent of those who were harassed and chose not to report the incident, may decide not to do so based on the fact that:

  • They don’t view the incident as sexual harassment. The same report revealed that 16 percent of women don’t have a clear picture of what sexual harassment looks like in the workplace.
  • They fear retaliation from employers or colleagues. A 2003 study by the Journal of Occupational Psychology found that 75 percent of employees faced retaliation after reporting workplace misconduct to their higher-ups.

Statistics from the EEOC reflect that once a claim is submitted to an employer:

  • 33-to-75 percent of employers avoid the harasser
  • 54-to-73 percent of employers don’t take the incident seriously or as seriously as they should
  • 44-to-70 percent of employers ignore the incident altogether and don’t pursue appropriate follow-up action

The Takeaway-Harris Poll of 2017 has revealed that women are far more likely to speak out about sexual harassment than men. Of 2,138 adults surveyed, 60 percent are confident to share their experiences because they know that they are not the only ones in this type of situation. Additionally, 20 percent stated they feel confident in reporting an incident because their employer will support them.

What is considered workplace harassment in California?

The EEOC defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature in the workplace or learning environment.”

These are examples of sexual harassment:

  • Making offers to exchange promotions or bonuses for sexual favors
  • Requests of sexual favors
  • Nonconsensual touching or physical contact
  • Exposing genitals or performing sexual acts on oneself in an unwanted manner
  • Nonconsensual sexual advances
  • Discussing sexual content
  • Pressuring colleagues into performing sexual acts
  • Unwanted sexual photos, text messages or emails
  • Verbal jokes about sexual orientation or sexual acts
  • Verbal comments about sexual orientation or sexual acts
  • Sexual assault (sexual assault includes acts such as rape, attempted rape, forced oral sex, fondling, or unwanted sexual touching.)

Sexual harassment does not need to be a physical encounter to be reported to employers.

What is quid pro quo sexual harassment?

Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employee’s manager, supervisor, or higher-up offers a promotion, salary increase, or other employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors. In addition, quid pro quo may occur when a manager or supervisor threatens to fire or punish an employee due to refusal of sexual favors or performance. Supervisors often commit quid pro quo as a way to establish or maintain power over employees.

Quid pro quo is defined as harassment under Title VII (The Civil Rights Act of 1964). To pursue a civil claim against the harasser, the employee must file a complaint with the EEOC. They typically have 300 days after the incident date to file the complaint.

What is a hostile work environment, and how does it relate to sexual harassment?

A hostile work environment is caused by negative actions and words of a supervisor or colleague.

According to the EECO, a workplace is considered hostile if:

  • Unwelcome conduct, or harassment based on race, sex, pregnancy, religion, national origin, age, disability or genetics.
  • Harassment is continued and long-lasting.
  • Conduct is severe enough that the environment becomes intimidating, offensive or abusive.

As a result of a hostile work environment, the victim cannot complete their job efficiently and productively.

Is sexual harassment training required in the California workplace?

As of January 2020, California law requires employers with five or more employees to provide:

  • One hour of sexual harassment and abusive misconduct prevention training for employees every two years
  • Two hours of sexual harassment and abusive misconduct prevention training for supervisory positions every two years

The training must occur within 30 days of hire.

California Government Code Section 12950.1 requires the training to include relatable examples of harassment reflecting gender identity and expression and sexual orientation. In addition, employers must provide all employees with a poster regarding sexual harassment generated by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing offers free online training to employers and employees. These resources meet the required California sexual harassment and abusive misconduct prevention training criteria. You can acquire the training by visiting this link.

If you believe that you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace in Los Angeles, San Francisco, or the Bay Area, we are here to help. Contact the Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak today for a consultation of your case.

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