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Sexual Harassment: A Legal Interpretation

Guha Law July 26, 2021

Sexual harassment in California prohibits anyone from harassing an employee in a way that causes the person to feel intimidated. Although the common interpretation involves a manager or supervisor making sexual advances, the term has broader connotations. For instance, a person can harass someone either physically or verbally. Asking a secretary to accommodate her employer by providing sexual favors constitutes another form of sexual harassment. Additionally, harassers could consist of co-workers or even clients.

Do General Comments About Men or Women Indicate Harassment?

Derogatory remarks about a person’s gender constitute harassment. For example, a male supervisor tells his female employee that all women suffer from stupidity. Although the statement does not have sexual implications, the commenter intends to make the person feel inferior. The woman in question can justifiably claim she is the victim of harassment. In addition, men are not always the harassing parties. Women can harass men by making sexual remarks or negative comments about males.

Harassers in the workplace include:

  • Managers

  • Supervisors

  • Other employees

  • Customers

Is It Against the Law to Tease Someone?

It is not necessarily illegal to tease an employee or job applicant in a friendly way unless the teaser makes a habit out of teasing. An occasional comment does not constitute harassment. Nonetheless, teasing remarks that get out of hand tend to make a person feel harassed. Sexual harassment becomes a legal liability when comments or physical acts create a hostile work environment for an employee.

What should you do if someone at work makes you feel uncomfortable?

Contact an attorney specializing in sexual harassment if you feel harassed by a supervisor, co-worker or customer. Call a lawyer if you lost your job because someone at work harassed you.