Sexual harassment in California is a touchy subject that, unfortunately, often remains unaddressed. In the workplace, many men and women experience some sort of inappropriate gestures or remarks that leave them feeling violated and even emotionally traumatized. If left unresolved, such incidents can result in hostile working environments, unfair demotions, and prolonged emotional stress.
Laws exist to protect individuals from sexual harassment, but do not completely cover instances of teasing or minor, isolated incidents. The point at which remarks or actions cross the legal boundary is unclear, as definitions of harassment differ depending on culture. Sexual harassers can be supervisors, colleagues, clients and anyone else affiliated with the place of work.
The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing gives information regarding sexual harassment and state regulations, and protects the rights of all California employees regarding harassment. The DFEH acknowledges that every two years, at least two hours of sexual harassment training must be provided to employees with supervisory duties by independent contractors and employers with 50 or more employees. Such training explains in depth the details of the Fair Employment and Housing Act and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. The training also covers specifics regarding types of harassment, ways to report or resolve issues, and resources for victims of sexual harassment.
The Society for Human Resource Management notes that if an employer fails to follow the DFEH and its preventative measures, that employer can be held liable for the harassment. Victims of sexual harassment may be entitled to damages, even if there is not actual loss of pay or benefits. It is the responsibility of the employer to take effective action to stop any further harassment and to make corrections in the workplace. Sexual harassment policies should include room for investigations if such an incident occurs.