Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment

What constitutes sexual harassment under the law?

Any unwelcome physical, verbal, written, or visual sexually based misconduct in the workplace.


Quid Pro Quo

Submission or rejection of sexual conduct, which is explicitly or implicitly, made a term or condition of employment or an employment decision.

Hostile work environment.

Sexually harassing conduct, within the complainant’s immediate work environment, which is so pervasive as to interfere with his or her work performance.

The conduct may or may not be directed at the complainant.



    • Adverse action against the complainant.
    • Adverse action against witnesses.

False Claims

• There are criminal or civil actions for making a false claim of sexual harassment.


Examples of Sexual Harassment

Verbal Harassment

●  Repeated, unsolicited, derogatory comments or slurs.

●  Continued requests for social/sexual contact after being told that such is unwelcome. (i.e. repeated phone calls)

●  Discussing sexual exploits.

●  Sexually patronizing comments (honey, babe, doll, etc).

●  Commenting on body parts.

●  Telling vulgar sexist jokes.

●  Making obscene or suggestive sounds.

●  Questions/comments about a person’s sexual practices.

●  Requesting employees wear sexually suggestive or demeaning clothing.


Physical Harassment

●  Physical interference or contact, which impedes normal movement when directed at an individual

●  Unwelcome touching (back rubs, brushing up against an individual, hugging, patting, kissing, and grabbing body parts)

Visual Harassment

●  Sexual images on a computer, posters, magazines, objects, etc.

●  Staring or leering

●  Sexual gestures


Written Items

●  Unwelcome notes

●  Greeting cards

●  Love letters

●  Invitations


●  Failure or refusal to comply with loss of job

●  Loss of assignment

●  Loss of job status

Responding to Sexual Harassment

●  Inform harasser that the conduct is unwelcome and to cease.

●  If victim is uncomfortable with personal contact, advise immediate supervisor, manager or department head.

●  If department is not conductive to making an internal complaint, the victim may report the incident to an entity external to the department.

  • ○  District Attorney
  • ○  State Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH)
  • ○  Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)

Ramifications for Offender

●  Disciplinary actions up to termination of employment

●  Civil lawsuit

●  Criminal prosecution

●  Fines imposed by EEOC and or DFEH

●  Negative impact on career, family, credibility, and reputation


Protection from Retaliation

●  Any form of retaliation is illegal under the law.

●  Law provides protection for complainants and witnesses.