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  • Writer's pictureJana Moser

Understanding Sexual Harassment in California: What Employers Must Do and How Employees Can Protect

Article Posted : 4/11/2023




Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that can have lasting effects on employees' mental and emotional well-being. In California, both employers and employees have specific roles and responsibilities in preventing and addressing sexual harassment. This article aims to help employees understand their rights and how to recognize if they have a valid legal employment case against their employer.


Employer Responsibilities in California


In California, employers are legally obligated to take measures to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. Some of the key responsibilities employers must fulfill include:

  1. Creating and implementing a written policy against sexual harassment that includes a complaint process, a prohibition against retaliation, and the consequences for violating the policy.

  2. Distributing the written policy to all employees and ensuring they understand the contents.

  3. Providing sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisors and employees every two years, as required by California law.

  4. Promptly investigating any allegations of sexual harassment and taking appropriate action to address the situation.

  5. Ensuring a harassment-free work environment by promptly addressing and remedying any potential issues.


Employee Rights and Recognizing Sexual Harassment


As an employee in California, you have the right to a work environment free from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can take various forms, including:

  1. Quid pro quo harassment: This occurs when a supervisor or someone in a position of authority demands sexual favors in exchange for job benefits, promotions, or favorable treatment.

  2. Hostile work environment: This type of harassment involves unwanted sexual advances, comments, or conduct that create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

If you believe you have been sexually harassed, it's crucial to understand the steps you can take to protect your rights:

  1. Report the harassment: Notify your supervisor, human resources department, or another appropriate person within your organization as outlined in your company's sexual harassment policy. Be sure to document the incident, including the date, time, location, and any witnesses.

  2. Keep records: Maintain detailed records of any incidents of harassment, including emails, text messages, and any other evidence that can support your claim.

  3. Consult an attorney: If your employer fails to address the issue or if you face retaliation for reporting the harassment, consult with an attorney experienced in employment law to discuss your options.


Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious issue that can have lasting effects on employees' mental and emotional well-being. In California, both employers and employees have specific roles and responsibilities in preventing and addressing sexual harassment.

Understanding your rights as an employee and recognizing the signs of sexual harassment are crucial steps in protecting yourself and your workplace. If you believe your rights have been violated, consult an attorney to discuss your options and potential legal remedies.

Remember, you have the right to work in an environment free from sexual harassment, and taking action can make a significant difference in ensuring that your workplace remains safe and respectful for all employees.


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