Sexual Harassment In The Workplace
Sexual harassment in the workplace has become a serious area of concern. Your liability as an employer may be extended to acts committed by supervisors and rank-and-file employees. Therefore, it is essential that you understand what constitutes sexual harassment, under both California and federal law, and take steps to prevent or stop it.
For more details on California's mandatory supervisor training requirements and harassment prevention, download our free Mandatory Harassment Prevention Training in California white paper.
- Failing to understand what constitutes sexual harassment.
Sexual Harassment Defined
Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual physical or verbal conduct in the workplace. There are two categories of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile environment. Understanding the differences in the two categories is important because they have different liability implications.
Federal law forbids sexual harassment under Title VII of the Civil Right Act of 1964. Title VII covers employers who employ, or have employed, 15 or more employees for each working day in 20 or more calendar weeks in the current or preceding calendar year.
Sexual harassment is illegal under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act. Sexual harassment protections extend to applicants, employees, unpaid interns, professional relationships and independent contractors.
Determining if a Hostile Environment Exists
Sexual harassment can include all types of conducts, such as asking for sexual favors, sexual touching, offensive language or posters. Generally, the conduct must be so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive working environment or results in an adverse employment decision (such as a firing).
Who Is Liable?
Sexual harassment law covers the actions of supervisors, coworkers, customers and vendors. Depending on the actions, or inaction, of you and your employees, you may be held liable.
Mandated Sexual Harassment Training
California employers of 50 or more employees, including those outside California, are required to provide supervisors within the state of California with two hours of sexual harassment training every two years. Training must include a component on the prevention of abusive conduct.
Duty To Prevent
California employers have an affirmative duty to take reasonable steps to prevent harassment in the workplace and to promptly correct harassment if it does occur.
As part of this duty, California employers must have a written harassment, discrimination and retaliation prevention policy that is distributed to employees. The policy must meet certain strict requirements required by California law. This policy can be purchased as part of CalChamber's Employee Handbook Creator.
California employers must also:
- Post a required notice from the Department of Fair Employment and Housing
- Provide each employee with a sexual harassment information sheet at the time of hire
Visit our online store to purchase required posters and notices.
When calculating overtime pay in California, you must use the employee's
"regular rate" of pay, not the normal hourly amount. The regular rate
is not simply an employee's normal hourly amount. The regular rate is a
term used to mean the employee's actual rate of pay once all hourly
earnings plus many other types of compensation are considered. The
regular rate must include nearly all forms of pay received by that
HRCalifornia members have access to several tools and services that help those who manage human resources to work through sexual harassment issues, inclu
Sexual harassment prevention training is good for your business in two ways. It's not only the law, but harassment in the workplace can damage your employee's morale and your company's productivity.
California companies with 50 or more employees are required to provide all supervisors two hours of sexual harassment prevention training within six months of hire or promotion, and every two years there
CalChamber's online training course meets the California mandatory supervisor harassment prevention training requirements and helps simplify harassment prevention training.
Developing, publishing and enforcing an anti-harassment policy provides a set of best practices in maintaining a harassment-free work environment and defending against employee claims. The How To is a step-by-step guide through the process.
al Harassment Quiz »
Do you know sexual harassment when you see it? What about your employees? Use this quiz to test your knowledge or that of your employees on this very important HR topic.
This white paper provides plain-language information for employers about sexual harassment training.
To help with organizing training, there is also a Mandatory Harassment Prevention Training Checklist.
It is important to determine the credibility of those testifying as part of a harassment complaint investigation. Use these guidelines to help you determine the credibility of an interviewee.
Use this checklist to implement any disciplinary actions that must be taken as a result of a harassment investigation.
Review this checklist when implementing a harassment prevention policy at your company.
Provide this policy to employee which states that you prohibit harassment, discrimination and retaliaiton in the workplace. Calfiornia employers are required to put this policy in writing. Also available in Spanish.
Use this form to explain your company's harassment complaint procedure. Distribute the procedure along with your non-harassment policy to new employees and perhaps annually to all employees.
Use this letter to inform an employee accused of harassment of his/her rights and obligations during the investigation process.
this letter to inform an employee making a harassment complaint of his/her rights and obligations during the investigation process.