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What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in California?

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) defines sexual harassment as an act or series of acts that are of a sexual nature, unwanted and unsolicited. Sexual harassment is a form of gender discrimination, and is therefore illegal under state and federal law.

Who can be accused?

In the past, only those in a position of power over the victim could be accused of sexual harassment. In recent years the law has been revised to include co-workers, physicians, psychologists, teachers, attorneys or anyone in a comparable position.

What acts are considered harassment?

There is a broad definition of what specific behaviors can fall into this category. They include lewd comments, requests for sexual favors, jokes and banter based on gender, unwanted touching, emails, texts and noises.


What raises harassment to the level of illegality?

In order for the acts to constitute a violation of the law, the following attendant conditions must obtain:

  • A shared business relationship – an individual may behave in an atrocious manner without being subject to arrest. Sexual harassment only takes place when the instigator and the victim stand in a business relationship, such as co-worker, service provider, or caregiver.
  • A request to stop – the victim must have requested that the perpetrator cease the specific behaviors complained of.
  • An inability to leave without serious repercussions – the victim must be in a position whereby leaving the relationship with the harasser would cause loss of income or job status.

There are differences between sexual harassment and persistent annoying behavior. If you feel uncomfortable because of unwanted sexual attention in your workplace, speak to a lawyer. Contact Los Angeles County Super Lawyers The Ruttenberg Law Firm, P.C. by calling 310.207.4022 or contact us online for a free consultation.

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