Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates the California Fair Employment and Housing Act also known as FEHA (Government Code §12920 et seq.), and Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance or creates an abusive, intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.

Under Federal law, sexual harassment can be found in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

  • The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man and does not have to be of the opposite sex
  • The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor or a co-worker
  • The victim doesn’t have to be the person harassed and can be anyone affected by the offensive conduct
  • Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim
  • The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome

In determining whether harassment has occurred under Federal law, one should examine the entirety of the circumstances, such as the nature of the sexual advances, and the context in which the alleged incidents occurred. A determination on the allegations is made from the facts on a case-by-case basis.

Sexual Harassment Under California State Law

The Fair Employment and Housing Act defines harassment because of sex as including sexual harassment, gender harassment and harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions. The Fair Employment and Housing Commission regulations define sexual harassment as unwanted sexual advances or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment includes many forms of offensive behavior and includes harassment of a person who is the same sex as the harasser. Under California law, illegal harassment may include, but is not limited to, the following:

  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors
  • Making or threatening reprisals after a negative response to sexual advances
  • Visual conduct, e.g., leering, making sexual gestures, displaying sexually suggestive objects or depictions
  • Verbal conduct, e.g., making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs and jokes
  • Verbal sexual advances or propositions
  • Verbal abuse of a sexual nature
  • Graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body
  • Sexually degrading words used to describe a person; suggestive or obscene letters; notes or invitations
  • Harassment based on gender, such as targeting a person for mistreatment because she is female
  • Physical conduct, such as touching, assault, impeding or blocking movements


It is important to know what to do to protect the legal rights of yourself and your loved ones. Selecting the right Sacramento employment lawyer is an important decision. You should choose someone who is experienced, aggressive and dedicated to working to get fair compensation. Over the past we have successfully handled thousands of Sacramento employment cases. That is why you should contact the Sacramento Employment Lawyers Clancey, Doyle & O’Donnell.