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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: What it Is and What to Do if You’re a Victim

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a very serious thing, and something that many people–many of whom are well-known or famous–are coming out about, and something to which the media is paying a lot of attention. Whether male, female, or transgender, and regardless of sexual orientation, understanding what sexual harassment in the workplace is and what your rights are if sexually harassed is important.

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Sexual harassment can be hard to define, as it includes a large number of inappropriate sexual behaviors. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission explains that sexual harassment is unwelcome conduct that revolves around sex or is based on sex (gender) that:

  • Is a condition of continued employment; or
  • Is severe or persistent enough to create a work environment that is hostile, abusive, or intimidating.

Again, the list of acts that may constitute sexual harassment in the workplace is very long, and could include:

  • Making sexual advances towards a co-worker or subordinate;
  • Touching another person in the workplace in a manner that is, or could be perceived as being, sexual;
  • Taking or sharing sexual photos of another person;
  • Asking a subordinate on a date or to engage in sexual relations;
  • Making offensive comments about a particular sex;
  • Requesting a sexual favor; or
  • Denying a promotion, work, or opportunity based on a refusal to perform a sexual act.

In the news as of late, acts of sexual harassment that have led to consequences, including lawsuits and resignations, range from sexual abuse to demands for sex to inappropriate touching to taking photographs with crude gestures to making sexual advances and more. The important thing is how the recipient of the sexual harassment perceives the act; again, if putting up with the sexual harassment is a condition of retaining a job, or makes employment unbearable, the harassment is illegal. Even if these conditions are not satisfied, though, this does not mean that the harassment is ethical, or that it should go without notice.

What to Do if You Are a Victim of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

If you are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, the first thing that you should do is to report the harassment to a supervisor. If your supervisor is the one harassing you, you may need to go straight to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or California Department of Fair Employment and Housing and file a complaint.

In some cases, you may also want to retain the counsel of a skilled lawyer. An attorney will not only assist you in understanding how to file a complaint and what your rights are when you are alleging sexual harassment in the workplace, but can also help you to understand whether or not a civil suit is appropriate, and if so, how to bring forth a civil action and what damages may be available to you.

At the law offices of Bracamontes & Vlasak, P.C., our San Francisco employment attorneys are passionate about putting an end to sexual harassment in the workplace, and will aggressively advocate for you if you’re a victim of workplace sexual misconduct. Please contact us today to schedule your free consultation and learn more.

Sexual Harassment Attorney