Harassment Overview

Sexual harassment remains a serious area of concern for employers. Sexual harassment lawsuits spur record settlements and damage awards to victims. Employers bear liability for harassing acts that supervisors and employees commit.

Sexual harassment is not the only type of unlawful harassment prohibited in the workplace. It is illegal to harass an employee based on the employee's race, national origin, religion or any other protected characteristic.

This section explains the behaviors that constitute sexual harassment and the laws that prohibit harassment in the workplace. You will learn under which circumstances your company will be held liable for the acts of your employees, supervisors, managers and even non-employees. You will find how some individuals can be held personally liable for their acts in addition to making the company liable. This section also discusses procedural aspects of harassment claims and what you should do when you learn, directly or indirectly, that an employee is being harassed.

This section also includes information on the California law that mandates sexual harassment training for all supervisory positions.​

  • Harassment Defined

    Harassment DefinedThe courts and government enforcement agencies define two broad categories of sexual harassment, quid pro quo and hostile environment.  More »

    ​​Read about 2016 regulations.
  • Harassment Coverage

    Harassment CoverageIn California, sexual harassment laws are part of the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA).  More »

    Read about a 2015 agency action and court case. ​​​​
  • Hostile Environment Harassment

    Hostile Environment HarassmentIn deciding if harassment is sufficiently severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment, the EEOC traditionally evaluates the harasser’s conduct from the objective viewpoint of a “reasonable person.”  More »

  • Liability for Sexual Harassment

    Liability for Sexual HarassmentConduct that constitutes sexual harassment can come from several sources, including supervisors, co-workers, customers and vendors.  More »

  • Sexual Harassment Claims and Lawsuits

    Sexual Harassment Claims and LawsuitsSexual harassment law contains complex procedural issues.  More »

  • Harassment Retaliation

    Harassment RetaliationBoth state and federal law prohibit retaliation against employees who bring claims of sexual harassment.  More »

  • Effective Harassment Prevention

    Effective Harassment PreventionIt is very important to implement anti-harassment policies. These policies must contain effective internal complaint procedures.   More »

    ​​Read about 2016 regulations.
  • Harassment Investigations

    Harassment InvestigationsDuring an investigation, fully inform the complainant of his/her rights under your anti-harassment policy and any other relevant policy, such as an internal grievance policy.  More »

  • Resolving Sexual Harassment Complaints

    Resolving Sexual Harassment ComplaintsWhen analyzing facts, very few issues are black and white. You must apply logic to reach a conclusion.  More »

    ​Read about 2016 regulations.
  • Mandatory Supervisor Harassment Prevention Training

    Mandatory Supervisor Harassment Prevention TrainingCalifornia employers with 50 or more employees must provide sexual harassment prevention training to all supervisors in California.  More »

    ​Read about 2016 regulations.