The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) prohibits harassment based on one’s sexual orientation. The law defines "sexual orientation" broadly, to encompass "heterosexuality, homosexuality and bisexuality." Harassment based on a "perceived" sexual orientation is prohibited by the FEHA. An employer can be liable for discriminating against someone he thinks is gay, even if it turns out the person is not. The plaintiff need not show the harassment was motivated by sexual desire of the harasser, but only that it was “because of” his or her sexual identity.
Not only is sexual harassment illegal. The law also prohibits:
- Racial harassment
- Religious harassment
- Age-based harassment
- Harassment based on disability
- Harassment based on ethnicity or national origin