How Is Sexual Harassment In The Workplace Defined In California?
There is no specific claim, cause of action, or rule when it comes to sexual harassment. The actual definition of what we sue for in sexual harassment cases is called unwanted harassing conduct. That is what is set forth in the jury instructions. It includes four categories: visual harassment, audible harassment, unwanted sexual advances, and any combination of verbal, physical, or a showing of images.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is unwanted harassing conduct, including showing images of a sexual nature or saying things that are inappropriate, which may or may not be sexual. It doesn’t have to be lewd or derogatory, like commenting about body parts. Also included is any type of physical contact or lewd gestures that cause contact, like thrusting the hips or rubbing up against someone.
The most interesting type of sexual harassment to prove is unwanted sexual advances. If any behavior is perceived by the victim as the harasser engaging in conduct that is potentially a sexual advance, it may amount to unwanted harassing conduct, which is how we sue for sexual harassment.
What Are Some Examples Of Sexual Harassment In The Workplace?
Displaying things that are sexual in nature is a common form of sexual harassment in the workplace; the classic example would be a naked women calendar. However, unwanted harassing conduct is not gender specific. The issue is when the image displayed is of a sexual nature. Pornography, of course, would be harassment. Where it starts getting interesting is if it’s a calendar of Sports Illustrated swimsuit models. Is that sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted harassing conduct, including visual depictions of sexual things. There is probably going to be no case that is going to support you in front of a jury if it is just a calendar of bikini-clad young women being displayed. When it comes to physical contact, it is the harasser putting hands or body parts against a victim. It could be a hand to the shoulders; it could be sexual organs, breasts, or rubbing up against them. It could be standing in a closed space and not making any physical contact at all, but leaning in as if to kiss or attempt to grasp them. Examples of verbal harassment would include any inappropriate commentary, including unwanted sexual advances. Again, those can range from asking a co-worker out on a date to revealing unwanted personal details about one’s sex life.
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