When you think of sexual harassment in the workplace, your thoughts might automatically go toward someone who is being groped or touched. That, however, is only one form of sexual harassment that is against the law in California. According to the Fair Employment and Housing Act, sexual harassment includes a variety of forms.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment is one form of sexual harassment that doesn’t get that much attention. This form of sexual harassment means that a worker is offered extra benefits if they do sexual favors for someone. It can also mean responding in a positive manner to sexual advances that come from someone who has a position of authority over you.
In some cases, people who are in a position of authority over you might threaten to make or make negative reviews or reprisals if you respond negatively to their advances. Again, this is a form of sexual harassment, but it is one that is sometimes ignored or not noticed.
Sexual harassment also has to do with what you aren’t allowed to do at work. If someone impedes your movements or blocks you from going somewhere in a manner that seems sexual, that is sexual harassment. Having to deal with visual gestures, suggestive objects, leering and other visual actions that are of a sexual nature is also sexual harassment. Even lewd jokes, derogatory comments and sexual slurs are forms of sexual harassment.
No matter what form of sexual harassment you are being subjected to, you should file complaints as soon as you begin to get that uncomfortable feeling about the situation. Understanding the laws and guidelines dealing with sexual harassment might help you as you move through the complaint process.
Source: California Department of Fair Employment and Housing, “Fair Employment and Housing – Sexual Harassment” Jul. 31, 2014