Harassment |
March 01, 2022

How to Identify Workplace Sexual Harassment

Many employees know that sexual harassment is prohibited in the workplace by law, but it can be far more difficult to determine what sexual harassment is. If you think that you might have been the victim of sexual harassment, schedule a consultation with one of our experienced employment lawyers. We will assess your case to determine your legal rights and advise you on the best way of enforcing them. In the meantime, learn more about the behaviors that can constitute unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace

Requests For Sexual Favors

One type of sexual harassment is called “quid pro quo,” which is Latin for “this for that.” Quid pro quo harassment occurs when anyone in a supervisory capacity asks an employee to engage in sexual behavior or activity in exchange for some benefit at work. (The benefit can even be simply keeping your job or avoiding discipline.) 

Though it sounds blatant, it can be difficult to identify an obvious exchange. What constitutes sexual behavior? Many actions can qualify if they have some sort of sexual component. The benefit you get may also be hard to identify, especially if it is simply not being fired. Our lawyers can help prove that you have been the victim of quid pro quo harassment by establishing what the proposed exchange actually was. 

Comments, Gestures, and Sexual Behaviors

The more common type of sexual harassment is referred to as a “hostile work environment.” This type of harassment does not have to be from a supervisor. Anyone in the office can create such an environment through comments, gestures, or other sexual behaviors. The company is required to respond to reports of such conduct in order to protect employees from the hostile work environment. 

A hostile work environment involves unwelcome conduct that occurs because of the employee’s sex and creates a hostile, offensive, oppressive, or intimidating work environment. Such harassing conduct is unlawful when it sufficiently offends, humiliates, or distresses an employee, so as to disrupt their emotional tranquility in the workplace, affect their ability to perform the job as usual, or otherwise interfere with their personal sense of well-being.


It is also unlawful for an employer to retaliate against an employee who reports sexual harassment. Retaliation can be any adverse employment action, such as denying you pay raises or opportunities for promotion, subjecting you to unfair discipline, or scheduling you to shifts or tasks that deny you pay or advancement. Any change for the worse in your working conditions can be a subtle sign of retaliation. Here, too, it is important to get an attorney’s opinion about whether your circumstances constitute retaliation under the law. 

Experienced Employment Lawyers For All Bay Area Sexual Harassment Cases

The best San Francisco labor and employment lawyers are right here at Minnis and Smallets. Our experienced employment attorneys work hard to protect all of an employee’s rights to be free from sexual harassment and retaliation in the workplace. Contact us today to schedule a consultation with an experienced Bay Area employment law attorney.