It is very important for businesses to know:

"Both California and Federal law generally define sexual harassment as unwanted sexual conduct of to main types:  quip pro quo harassment and hostile environment harassment.  Quid pro quo harassment occurs when employment is conditioned, expressed, or implied, on submission to unwelcome sexual advances (such as a supervisor saying, "If you want to keep your job, you'd better have sex with me."

"The more frequent type of sexual harassment, hostile environment, generally occurs when the employee's work environment is made hostile  or abusive by sexual misconduct.  Under the Fair Employment and Housing  Act (FEHA), harassment or sex-based harassment, i.e., conduct that shows hostility based on gender even though the conduct itself was not sexual.  An example of this type of harassment would be a supervisor's hostile comments that "women do not belong in the workplace."

Sexual harassment can include unwanted sexual advances or propositions, verbal conduct, including epithets, slurs or derogatory comments and comments about a person's body, appearance or sexual activity; physical conduct, including assault, impeding  or blocking movement, or any physical harassment, including leering looks, offensive gestures or derogatory posters, cartoons or drawings."  Furthermore, "Under California law, sexual harassment claims generally arise out of either an employment situation or when there is a business, service or professional relationships including therapist and patients, attorney and clients, and doctors and patients, (See California Civil Code section 51.9.).  Additionally, an "employer must take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent discrimination and harassment from  occurring (California Government Code section 12940(i).

If harassment has occurred the employer has a duty to take measures to not only change the harasser's behavior, but to prevent potential harassers from unlawful conduct.  Reasonable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment from occurring include:  affirmatively raising the issue of harassment; expressing strong disapproval of harassment; developing appropriate sanctions for harassment; informing employees of their rights and instructing them to report harassment; developing methods to sensitize all employees to behavioral indications of sexual harassment and the gravity of its consequences.

Furthermore, both employers and employees must understand:  "It is an unlawful employment practice under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) to retaliate against anyone who has opposed practices proscribed by FEHA, i.e., sexual harassment or discrimination, or has filed a compliant, testified or assisted in any proceeding under FEHA .  Thus, employees are protected from retaliation if they complain about harassment or discrimination.

Under  California law, the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects  both male and female employees, applicants for employment and independent contractors.  It also protects an employee or an applicant from harassment by a person of the same sex.  It allies to all employees of any employer.

The following is a list of sexual harassment cases :

  1. Gotthardt v. National Railroad Passenger Corp. (1999)  The Gotthardt case is the first appellate decision in this circuit holding that the damage cap of 42 U.S.C. Section 1981 a(b)(3) does not apply to an employee's claim for lost future wages ("front pay") under Title VII, and pave the way for employees to obtain damage awards for future lost wages based on their actual future wage loss, without an arbitrary dollar cut-off.
  2. Oncale v. Sundowner Offshore Services  (1998) Case involving same sex harassment and harassment of males. Court ruled such cases to be legally supported.
  3. Faragher v. City of Boca Raton, Florida (1998) court ruling that decided that employees are responsible for the misconduct of supervisors, even if the employer was not aware of the behavior.
  4. Burlington Industries v. Ellerth (1998) The court ruled that even if the harassed employee did not suffer any significant damages or tangible impact upon their job or person, the employer may still be liable for the harassment.
  5. Harris v. Forklift Systems (1993)  The court ruled that an abusive and hostile work environment is illegal if the employee charging harassment did not suffer psychological damages.

I hope that the above information is helpful to both employers and employees in the State of California.  MVP Seminars is an acknowledged leader in sexual harassment training.   Please contact MVP Seminars for topic specific information.