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How to Prove a Sexual Harassment Claim in San Francisco

— November 30, 2022

If you receive sexually explicit messages or images via email or messaging apps, make sure to save all of them to a secure device.

San Francisco, CA -Sexual harassment is strictly prohibited in California, under both federal law (the Civil Rights Act of 1964) and state law (the California Fair Employment and Housing Act). All employers with five or more employees in the state are required by law to have a sexual harassment policy in place, offering clear examples of harassment, the mechanism for filing an internal complaint, and the penalties for such incidents. 

On paper everything looks just fine, but, in real life, not so much. The vast majority of sexual harassment cases go unreported. Victims resign themselves to their fate or quit their job rather than speak out. Why? Because they’re afraid no one will believe them and the employer will retaliate against them, which, by the way, is also illegal in California. 

There is someone who will listen to their story and will believe them, and that’s a San Francisco sexual harassment lawyer.

When you reach out to a professional they will help you gather the evidence you need to prove that you were harassed at work and make those responsible for it pay for what they’ve done.

Let’s have a look at the main types of sexual harassment in California and what you can do about it.

What are the main types of sexual harassment in San Francisco?

The law in California describes two types of sexual harassment, quid pro quo cases, and hostile work environment cases.

Quid pro quo

The term comes from Latin and means ‘this for that’. In the workplace, this is often put as ‘you have sex with me and I’ll give you a nice raise’. Quid pro quo refers to those cases when the harasser is a supervisor, manager, or the employer himself. If your supervisor tells you, directly or indirectly, that agreeing to their sexual demands is a condition for continued employment or a promotion, that’s a textbook case of sexual harassment. Talk to some experienced California sexual harassment lawyers and they’ll teach you what to do.

For instance, reach out to coworkers you can trust. Chances are you’re not the first victim and if other women come forward you will have a good case. They shouldn’t be afraid to support you as, according to the law, they are also protected against retaliation. 

Other proof that you were discriminated against include being constantly assigned the most menial jobs, being overlooked for a promotion you clearly deserved, or being excluded from team meetings because the boss is not happy with your attitude.

Hostile work environment

This refers to those situations when you are sexually harassed by one or more of your coworkers. It can be physical, verbal, or visual harassment or a combination of all of them.

Such cases are easier to prove than quid pro quo situations.

Pornhub logo under a magnifying glass. Image via Flickr/user:Marco Verch Professional Photography. (CCA-BY-2.0). (

If, for instance, your coworkers use derogatory terms or make inappropriate comments about your looks, there will be witnesses who can corroborate your claims. Your lawyers will advise you to keep a detailed journal of your suffering, writing down the date and location of the incident, who said what, and who was present.

If you receive sexually explicit messages or images via email or messaging apps, make sure to save all of them to a secure device. If they put up pornographic posters or drawings around the office, take pictures. 

Your sexual harassment lawyers will submit everything as evidence when you file a complaint with the Department of Fair Employment and Housing or the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Under California law, you have 300 days from the date of the last incident to file a formal complaint. 

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