What is Sexual Harassment in The Workplace?
Sexual harassment is unlawful under federal and state statutes. You may have heard the expression that distinction between sexual harassment and no sexual harassment sexual harassment lawyer is dependent on the attractiveness of the perpetrator and to a large extent this is true. If the conduct or environment is sexual in nature and it is unwanted then it is sexual harassment.
There is a difference between sexual harassment and gender based discrimination. Gender based discrimination and sexual harassment are not the same thing, and a claimant can have a gender based discrimination claim as well as a sexual harassment claim. Under California law sexual discrimination requires the claimant prove a tangible job related benefit has been lost. The claimant must show there was discrimination in compensation, or terms, or conditions, or privileges of employment. In a sexual harassment claim, the claimant is not required to prove a loss of a tangible benefit. Also, keep in mind that neither sexual harassment nor gender based discrimination is limited to claims by women. Men likewise are protected and can also make claims. Men generally do not make claims, for fear of embarrassment or other personal reasons, but they are just as likely to be harassed as women are.
California law also specifically requires employers to take affirmative action to prevent sexual harassment on the basis of sex or sexual orientation. Federal law does not protect against harassment, because of someone’s sexual orientation, but California specifically prohibits sexual harassment because of someone’s sexual orientation, therefore gays and lesbians are specifically protected and any type of sexual harassment against these groups is unlawful.
The federal statutes and courts defined sexual harassment one way and the State of California defines in a different way. The California Supreme Court has defined harassment as conduct that is outside the scope of the necessary job performance, conduct that is presumably engaged in for the perpetrators owns personal gratification, or because of meanness, or because of bigotry, or because of other personal motives.
The California Fair Employment and Housing Commission has been authorized to adopt and promulgate regulations to interpret the statute that addresses sexual harassment. The department of Fair Employment and Housing has defined three different kinds of sexual harassment. There is verbal harassment, there is physical harassment, and there is visual harassment. Verbal harassment includes epithets, derogatory comments or slurs, repeated romantic overtures, sexual comments and jokes, or prying into another’s personal affairs. Meaning an individual cannot comment about another persons physical characteristics, cannot repeatedly ask another person for dates, cannot make dirty jokes, cannot ask about another’s sexual activity or personal plans for the evening or the weekend.