Most California residents know that sexual harassment at work is illegal. However, sexual harassment means more than just unwanted sexual advances.
Physical, verbal or visual unwanted sexual advances are considered sexual harassment. What you may not know is that the offender’s behavior does not need to be directed toward you or motivated by sexual desire to qualify as sexual harassment.
You may be sexually harassed because you are pregnant, have children or identify as a specific gender. You can be harassed by a person of the same sex or different sex as you.
Therefore, do not assume that something is not sexual harassment because the words or actions are not explicitly sexual in nature or based on an apparent sexual attraction to you.
Additionally, you can be a victim of sexual harassment even if the comments or actions are not directed specifically toward you. Many offenders believe they can get away with their behavior by commenting on a particular group, rather than an individual.
For example, if a co-worker constantly makes negative comments about women or mothers, that could be a form of sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can come from anyone in your workplace, including direct co-workers or upper management. It does not matter if the person works in a different department from you or holds a different job title. They can still be guilty of sexual harassment.
The sexual harassment must be of a nature that creates a hostile work environment for you based on your sex. If you feel intimidated at work and unable to do your job properly because of someone’s sexually harassing behavior, you may have a valid claim for sexual harassment.
It can be scary to think about reporting sexual harassment. Most of us need our jobs. You may worry about losing your job and being unable to pay your bills.
You might also be scared that you will be viewed as a troublemaker or liar, who is only out for revenge against someone.
Before you decide to report the harassment, it can help to talk with a professional about the situation and get some advice.