Close X
We are essential, and so are you! Our firm is still OPEN for business and accepting new clients. To protect your safety, we are offering new and current clients the ability to meet with us via telephone or through video conferencing. Please call our office to discuss your options.

Sexual harassment vs. flirting at work: How to know the difference


Perhaps you are reading this because you are experiencing sexual harassment at work. Or maybe you are experiencing unwanted flirting or attention from a coworker, but you don't know if it constitutes sexual harassment - and you don't know what to do about it.

First and foremost, it is important to remember that workplace sexual harassment is illegal. The law protects you, the victim.

When your employer fails to take steps to stop this unwanted attention, it is advisable to talk to an employment law attorney.

Understanding California's Sexual Harassment Laws

As a victim, it is natural for you to have many questions about what you are experiencing: Is it flirting or is it sexual harassment? It is important to understand how California law defines sexual harassment:

  • Quid pro quo sexual harassment: The promise of a promotion or pay raise in exchange for sexual favors, for example.
  • Hostile work environment sexual harassment: This type of harassment may involve:
    • Unwanted touching or massaging
    • Repeatedly asking for date
    • Continual unwanted flirting
    • Making inappropriate comments about appearance
    • Making sexual comments
    • Displaying pornographic images on computer or via email

In quid pro quo sexual harassment, a single event can be considered sexual harassment. With hostile work environment sexual harassment, events may build up over time.


Flirting may be considered sexual harassment when the words or actions are unwanted and the aggressor refuses to stop. But is there any way to know for sure? Here are some scenarios to consider:

  • Possibly not sexual harassment: If a coworker asks you out, you say no, and there is no further contact
  • Possibly sexual harassment: If a coworker asks you out, you say no, and the coworker continues to pressure you for a date
  • Possibly not sexual harassment: If a coworker flirts with you, you tell him or her to stop, and the behavior stops
  • Possibly sexual harassment: If a coworker flirts with you, you tell him or her to stop, and he or she continues to flirt with you

Sometimes telling a coworker to stop may be enough. Sometimes it is necessary to take the issue to HR. In some cases, when HR dismisses your complaints or does little or nothing to stop the behavior, it may be time to talk to an employment law attorney.

If you believe you have experienced sexual harassment at work, please talk to a lawyer from Bononi Law Group, LLP. If you have been fired, demoted or otherwise discriminated against for reporting sexual harassment, please schedule a free consultation with us. You may be entitled to compensation. 

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

Why Hire Bononi Law Group?

You can choose among many California law firms when seeking an attorney for your employment law matter. Here are four reasons you should consider Bononi Law Group.

  • Experienced Experienced

    More than two decades helping employees and employers with employment law matters

  • Recognized Recognized

    Included in Southern California Super Lawyers, listed in Best Lawyers in America, and quoted in the Los Angeles Times

  • Right-Sized Right-Sized

    Small enough to give personal attention and large enough to have the resources needed for success

  • Tested Tested

    We have obtained hundreds of millions of dollars for clients through settlements and trial verdicts

  1. AVVO Rating - 10.0 Superb
  2. BBB(R) - Accerdited Business A+ Rating
  3. Weekly Reader Recommended - Best of Pasadena - 2016
  4. LACBA - Los Angeles County Bar Association
  5. Lead Counsel - LC - Rated
  6. Martindale-Hubbell - AV Preeminent - Peer Rated for Highest Level of Professional Excellence
  7. The National Advocates | Top 100 Lawyers
  8. Super Lawyers
  9. ABA - American Bar Association
  10. FindLaw - Bononi Law Group, LLP

Fight Back With Bononi Today! Call 866-295-7512

To learn about your legal rights and options in employment matters, talk to us. Complete the form here or give us a call.


Email Us For Quick Answers

Bold labels are required.

Contact Information

The use of the Internet or this form for communication with the firm or any individual member of the firm does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Confidential or time-sensitive information should not be sent through this form.


Privacy Policy

visit our office/follow us

Bononi Law Group, LLP
301 North Lake Ave, Suite 820
Pasadena, CA 91101

Toll Free: 866-295-7512
Fax: 213-553-9215
Pasadena Law Office Map