Sexual harassment is illegal in California. By law, it’s defined as “unwelcome verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive and affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment.”
Sexual conduct can be one of several varieties: verbal or written, physical, nonverbal, and visual. Verbal or written sexual conduct could consist of a coworker making rude comments about your personal sexual life or requesting sexual favors. Physical sexual conduct would include inappropriate touching. Nonverbal sexual conduct is behavior in which a person uses gestures or other nonverbal cues to make another personal uncomfortable, such as looking a person up and down or making suggestive gestures. Visual sexual conduct consists of seeing offensive content, like sexual posters, screensavers or offensive emails.
In order for conduct to be considered sexual harassment, the conduct must be severe or pervasive. In other words, a boss making one off-color comment to you once in 10 years probably would not be considered sexual harassment, because the conduct was not severe, and wouldn’t be considered pervasive since it happened once in 10 years. However, a boss making rude sexual comments to you every day for a year probably would be considered sexual harassment, because it was pervasive.
If you are being sexually harassed at work, the most important thing is to make it stop. If you are experiencing sexual harassment, make it clear that such behavior is not ok with you. If it continues, write a letter letting the harasser know your position, and keep a copy of the letter. You will then want to make a log of the incidents that occur, and report them to your supervisor in writing.
You may also wish to get an attorney involved. You could file a grievance with a federal or state agency, or file a lawsuit. Here at Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty believes that all California employees have the right to work free from sexual harassment. If you’re experiencing sexual harassment in northern California, including Hayward, San Francisco or Tracy, call Micha Star Liberty, sexual harassment attorney at 415-896-1000. She will work hard to make the harassment stop.