Legal Definition of Harasser in California Law

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  • 0:00 A Typical Day at the Office?
  • 0:36 What Defines a Harasser in CA?
  • 1:22 Examples of Harassment
  • 2:16 Who Can Be Considered…
  • 3:07 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Shawn Grimsley
Sexual harassment can be a serious problem in the workplace, endangering employees and resulting in legal liability for both the harasser and the employer. In this lesson, you'll learn about who can be considered a harasser under California law.

A Typical Day at the Office?

You go into work one day, and you ask your coworker how he is. Simple question, right? He responds with a detailed explanation of a date he went on last night, not leaving out any details. You ask him to stop telling you this, but he laughs at you and tells you you're uptight and keeps telling the tale. He then pulls out his phone and shows you graphic pictures of himself and his date, which you tell him repeatedly not to show you. Doesn't sound very pleasant, does it? In fact, you've just been sexually harassed by your coworker.

What Defines a Harasser in California?

In California, a sexual harasser is anyone who engages in sexual harassment as defined by either Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 or the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA). FEHA regulations define sexual harassment as 'unwanted sexual advances, or visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.' The definition under Title VII is substantially the same.

Keep in mind that sexual harassment includes offensive conduct regarding a person's sex or gender, and it also includes matters related to the same, such as pregnancy or medical conditions. As you can see, the definition is pretty broad, which means that many different types of conduct can make a person a harasser. Let's dig a bit deeper.

Examples of Harassment

If someone is harassing you in one of the following manners, then the person is a sexual harasser under both FEHA and Title VII:

  • Making sexual advances that are unwanted
  • Making an employment benefit, such as a promotion or raise, contingent upon granting a sexual favor
  • Subjecting you to negative employment consequences, such as denial of a promotion, raise or termination, for failure to grant a sexual favor
  • Subjecting you to unwanted visual conduct of a sexual nature, such as posting sexually related images, ogling, or making sexualized gestures
  • Subjecting you to unwanted verbal conduct of a sexual nature, such as jokes, derogatory statements and slurs, or verbal abuse of a sexual nature
  • Subjecting you to unwanted physical conduct of a sexual nature, including touching, unreasonably invading your personal space, or blocking your movement

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