Over the last few years a spotlight has been shining on the issue of sexual harassment in the workplace in America. For a time, news reports popped up seemingly every day about another corporate chief executive or celebrity who acted inappropriately in the workplace and who, sometimes years later, was finally being held to account. Understanding the issue of sexual harassment and what to do about it when it occurs is still a major concern for millions of people in the workplace.
Although any instance of sexual harassment in the workplace is unacceptable, there are varying levels of severity. For example, overt, unwanted sexual touching or demands for sexual favors in exchange for job security are clearly some of the worst instances of sexual harassment. When these incidents occur, it is fairly obvious that they constitute sexual harassment. However, there are other situations in which workers may feel uncomfortable, but are not sure that sexual harassment has occurred.
For instance, in workplaces in which one gender is predominantly present, there may be an atmosphere of joking, comments and gestures that offend or make people of the other gender uncomfortable. There could be pictures or memes of a sexual nature being passed around, or even music being played that is sexually suggestive or offensive. If these incidents are frequent enough to cause a worker to feel threatened, harassed or intimidated, it may rise to the level of sexual harassment. In legal terms, this is known as a sexually hostile work environment.
At our law firm, we do our best to help California residents hold their employers accountable when sexual harassment occurs. For more information, please visit the sexual harassment overview section of our law firm’s website.