Sexual harassment is illegal. Period. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act.
Below is a list of behaviors that are considered to be sexual harassment:
■ Unwanted sexual advances
■ Physical touching like a neck/shoulder massage
■ Unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, remarks, or questions
■ Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors
■ Making sexual gestures with hands or through body movements
■ Sexual innuendos, jokes, or stories
■ Unwanted pressure for dates
■ Leering or standing close or brushing up against a person
■ Telling lies or spreading rumors about a person’s personal sex life
■ Showing gestures or displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters
In California, employers are liable for harassment by their supervisors or agents. All harassers, including both supervisory and non-supervisory personnel, may be held personally liable for harassment or for aiding and abetting harassment. California mandates that employers to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment. If an employer fails to take such steps, that employer can be held liable for the harassment. In short, employers have an affirmative duty to take reasonable steps to prevent and promptly correct discriminatory and harassing conduct, and to create a workplace free of sexual harassment. In fact, a program to eliminate sexual harassment from the workplace is required by California law.