From asking for sexual favors to making offensive comments on the basis of gender, there are a number of ways that comments constitute sexual harassment.
Each day, California employees encounter challenges in the workplace, such as dealing with a co-worker or supervisor who makes offensive comments. However, it is important for employees to recognize their rights and understand when nasty remarks constitute sexual harassment.
Examples of unlawful behavior
Sometimes, offensive comments do not constitute sexual harassment, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. For example, it may not be against the law for a supervisor or co-worker to make an insignificant one-off comment or slightly tease an individual in the workplace. Having said that, there are a number of circumstances where comments do constitute sexual harassment, including the following:
- Highly offensive remarks which cause unfavorable employment outcomes, including job loss
- Recurrent comments that lead to a working environment which is hostile
- An individual making offensive comments on the basis of gender
- An employee being verbally harassed in a sexual manner
- Requests for a sexual favor or an indecent sexual joke
- Sexually charged insults and comments concerning an employee’s body
Sometimes, employees are subjected to sexual harassment at the hands of their co-worker or supervisor. However, employees should remember that they may also be subjected to sexual harassment by people who do not even work for the company, including customers and clients. Moreover, harassers and victims may share the same gender and can be male or female.
Other types of sexual harassment
In addition to offensive comments, there are other unacceptable behaviors that appear in the workplace and violate the law, which are outlined by the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing. For example, certain types of physical contact are unlawful. It is illegal for someone to assault, touch or block an individual at work. Furthermore, sexual harassment can be purely visual, from the presentation of explicit materials at work to staring at someone in a malicious way. Other examples of sexual harassment include unwelcome sexual advances, threats following the denial of sexual advances and even sharing indecent notes.
Addressing illegal harassment in the workplace
When it comes to sexual harassment, employers have a responsibility to root out this inappropriate behavior immediately. Unfortunately, many employers fail to hold harassers accountable or take preventative measures to protect staff from sexual harassment. As a result, employees often have to take matters into their own hands.
In San Diego, and cities across the state, victims of sexual harassment may decide to speak with their supervisors or file complaints. In some cases, taking legal action is necessary. When an employee experiences sexual harassment, they may want to discuss what happened with an attorney.