Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates the law. Harassment can take many forms. Sexual harassment generally consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when this conduct affects an individual's employment, interferes with an individual's work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Sexual harassment is by far the most prevalent form of actionable harassment that individuals experience in the workplace. Sexual harassment violates the law when it is so severe or constant that it alters the conditions of the victim's employment and creates an abusive working environment. Sexual harassment is illegal under both federal and California law. The California Fair Employment & Housing Act (also known as “the FEHA”) has always prohibited sexual harassment at work. The FEHA applies to all private employers, many public employers, recruitment agencies, labor organizations, state licensing boards & state and local governments that have 1 or more employees. The FEHA provides protection against sexual harassment for persons who provide services pursuant to a contract. Federal law, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, offers protections from sexual harassment to employees of companies of 15 or more employees.
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