You have the legal right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace, and the State of California has both federal and state laws that prohibit any type of sexual harassment, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and the California Constitution. While sexual harassment is illegal in California, and throughout the U.S., unfortunately, there continue to be reports of sexual harassment in the workplace. Understanding the top five warning signs of sexual harassment in the workplace can help you determine if you may have a claim under the law.
Definition of Sexual Harassment
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment in the workplace as any unwanted sexual advances or visual, verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.
Warning Signs of Sexual Harassment
While every person may have a different set of factors by which they determine something is either inappropriate or unwanted behavior, the following are some warning signs in the workplace that can signal sexual harassment.
- Physical Contact. Any physical contact that is unwanted in the workplace can be sexual harassment. This may include touching, brushing up against someone, putting hands on shoulders or waist, getting close enough to whisper something, back rubs, standing too close, prohibiting or blocking someone from moving, or making actual physical assaults towards another person.
- Verbal Comments. Any verbal comments that are of a sexual nature can be considered sexual harassment in the workplace. This may include sexually charged jokes, slurs, comments on a person’s body, comments on another person’s body in front of other people, sexual commentary, vulgar language, sexual remarks about clothing or appearance, or asking about sexual experiences.
- Gestures. Any physical gestures that simulate sex or sexual activity or engaging in any motions that would be considered crude or sexually vulgar are considered sexual harassment. These gestures do not even have to be directed at you, but rather, you simply need to be in the area where they occurred.
- Sexual Pictures. If sexual pictures are posted in a breakroom, in a cubicle where you can see, or through email, this is also considered sexual harassment in the workplace.
- Offers of Benefits. If a supervisor or manager continually asks to meet you alone after work or offers some “quid pro quo” suggestions where you will receive benefits and perks at your job for performing sexual favors, this is absolutely sexual harassment, and you should visit with senior management and contact an attorney.
Contact an Employment Attorney
If you experienced any of the above warning signs, you likely have experienced sexual harassment and have the legal right to pursue a claim under both federal and state law. Contact an experienced employment attorney at the Law Offices of Jeremy Pasternak at 415-373-1287 or online, to help you build your workplace sexual harassment discrimination case and receive the justice you deserve.