What Is the Definition of Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment in California is defined under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). Under FEHA, in order for there to be sexual harassment, the conduct must be sexual, severe, and pervasive. The more frequent the sexual harassment, the less severe the sexual harassment has to be. The reason for this is that sexual harassment is based upon creating a hostile environment. The Supreme Court of the United States has held that a single incident (maybe other than rape) does not create a hostile environment.

For example, if the employee is continually asked on a date, and the employee finds it offensive, asks the person to stop it and if the person does not stop it, the accumulative effect is to create a hostile environment.

However, there is liability for a single act when the harasser offers a benefit to the employee such as money or promotion to have sex. This is called “Quid Pro Quo.” This means “This for that” in Latin.

It is important that the victim makes it clear to the harasser that the conduct was unwelcomed and reports the conduct to a supervisor or to Human Resources. If the employee does not report it, then the company is not liable for the sexual harassment.

To discuss your case in a confidential review, contact my Los Angeles sexual harassment law office for a free case consultation.