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West Coast Employment Lawyers is open 24/7 and fully operational during the COVID-19 quarantine. We are available to serve all of our personal injury clients, as well as potential new clients. Please feel free to contact us anytime.

Top Ranked

Employment Law Firm in California

Top Ranked

Employment Law Firm in California

An Intro To Same-Sex Harassment


Under Title VII of the Federal Civil Rights Act of 1964, same-sex harassment is considered illegal, even if it has been perpetuated by someone of the same sex. The court has determined that Title VII prohibits same-sex harassment by interpreting that sexual harassment does not have to be motivated by sexual desire at all. 

Examples of same-sex harassment include:

  • A male worker who is being harassed by other male co workers with mentions of sex-related acts or rape-related threats/jokes.
  • A married man who is receiving sexually explicit photos of women or sexually explicit jokes from male co-workers, thus making him feel uncomfortable in his working environment.
  • A female worker continuously making inappropriate physical contact, such as touching other female workers without their consent.
  • Harassing a man for displaying “feminine” behaviors. An example could be of a male waiter who is carrying the tray “like a girl” or who is not interested in partaking in sexual activities with a woman. 
  • A female supervisor who is making sexually related comments towards female employees that are offensive. 

Overall, making demands for sexual favors, sexual jokes, or displaying physical and verbal conduct of a sexual nature is not permitted regardless of what your gender may be or what gender you are inflicting it on. 

Legal Standards 

Legal standards that result in action taking place for same-sex harassment depend on the level of severity inflicted on the victim(s). Severe harassment can easily create an unsafe or hostile work environment for the victim(s) involved, which goes against Title VII. 

There are actions you can take to ensure that the offending parties do not continue with their inappropriate behaviors. Inappropriate actions may include but are not limited to non-consent for sexual touching or verbally demanding sexual activities from an individual. 

State And Local Laws

California Law

In California, Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) exists to prohibit all forms of sexual harassment in the workplace. FEHA protections will apply to: 

  • Employment Agencies
  • Private Employers
  • Public Employers
  • Labor Organizations
  • Employment Agencies 
  • State and Local Governments with 1 or more Employees

Federal Law

The primary federal law that prohibits all forms of sexual harassment in the workplace is Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Much like FEHA, Title VII applies to most public and private employers, employment agencies, labor organizations, and also includes employer-union apprenticeship programs that have 15 or more employees.

Policies & Training

Typically, company policies must include same-sex sexual harassment. Same-sex harassment sometimes occur because an employer isn’t aware of existing sexual harassment policies and does not properly communicated to them to their staff. 

At times, victims may just not know how to handle harassment, and the individuals inflicting these inappropriate behaviors don’t believe they are committing any wrongful actions. It is crucial to create a well-established policy for sexual harassment and communicate it effectively within the workplace to ensure that every worker exists in a safe work environment. 

Why You Should Report Same-Sex Harassment 

  1. Allowing this behavior to persist will make harassers believe their actions are not inappropriate. Clearly letting them know you are uncomfortable with their actions, along with reporting them to your employer, will potentially decrease the improper behavior. 
  2. Stopping a same-sex harasser could help not only you, but others around you as well. You might not have been the first target, but hopefully you can be the last one. 
  3. Title VII makes it illegal to retaliate against employees who report sexual harassment workplace. 

Tips for Employers 

It is necessary to treat same-sex harassment claims like any other. A thorough investigation must be conducted to get a full understanding from both sides. 

Below is a comprehensive list for employers to minimize the occurrence of this type of harassment in the workplace:

  • There should be respect and sympathy directed towards the individual complaining about their same-sex harassment encounter. Lack of empathy or respect increases the chance of triggering unwanted emotions. 
  • Refrain from attacking the victim or retaliating against them if they are notifying you about the situation they are in. 
  • Ask relevant questions to attain important information that will help you get a clear understanding of the issue. 
  • Continue to maintain confidentiality and respect the privacy of the parties involved. 
  • Give both parties a substantial amount of time to give their perspectives on what happened.
  • Ensure yourself that you have interviewed everyone involved. Missed information may create an incomplete picture of the incident, resulting in the chance of creating an unfair compromise.
  • Once the individual who committed the same-sex harassment is identitifed, take immediate action against them.

What Can West Coast Employment Lawyers Do For You?

If you have made up your mind to take action, it is important to work with an attorney that specializes in cases like yours. The sexual harassment lawyers at West Coast Employment Lawyers have extensive experience handling sexual harassment cases. We will work tirelessly to gather the facts, find and interview eyewitnesses, hire experts, and fight for your rights.

We work on a contingency basis, which means we only get attorney’s fees if we are able to recover for you. Our legal team is available 24/7 and will take care of your case from start to finish. For a free no-obligation consultation with a sexual harassment attorney in California, contact our office at (213) 927-3700


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