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How do you recognize sexual harassment in the workplace?

Whether you are male, female or nonbinary, you may be a victim of sexual harassment at your California employer. If a coworker of any gender has made you uncomfortable or placed you in situations in which you felt you could not escape, you could be dealing with sexual harassment. Sometimes harassment is overt, while at other times it can be more difficult to concretely identify. How can you recognize sexual harassment in the workplace?

The Society for Human Resources Management provides insights into what can qualify as sexual harassment under California law. The most obvious is blatant sexual advances, but more insidious may involve occurrences in which you may be denied advancement or other career opportunities unless you are willing to complete acts of a sexual nature. What defines "acts of a sexual nature" may be as egregious as coerced intercourse, or can involve specific acts such as displaying parts of your body or saying a specific phrase that has sexual meaning to your harasser. Punishing or threatening you for refusing these acts is also harassment.

Other forms of harassment include unwanted physical contact, sexually charged messages or emails, sexual comments, or physical assault pertaining to gender, gender expression or gender identity. Even a look can qualify as sexual harassment, if a person looks at you in a blatantly sexual way or otherwise makes you uncomfortable with their regard. The main qualifier for sexual harassment is a situation in which another person's sexual behavior is unwanted and uninvited, whether you can or cannot feasibly escape.

This blog post is an information reference and does not constitute legal counsel


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