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What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in San Francisco?

— April 19, 2022

Also, if a coworker asks you on a date, it is not harassment unless they insist after you’ve turned them down and told them you’re not interested.

San Francisco, CA – Sexual harassment has no place in the workplace, no matter if you work in a public or private company in San Francisco. Sexual harassment falls under sex-based discrimination and is prohibited under the California Fair Employment and Housing Act, as well as under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. If you think you’re being discriminated against based on your sex, you need to talk to knowledgeable San Francisco sexual harassment lawyers as soon as possible. You don’t have to live in fear and be humiliated every single day when the law is clearly on your side. 

When you schedule a free consultation with good California sexual harassment lawyers they will want to hear the whole story to see whether you have a case. They will explain what you need to do and what sort of evidence could be useful to support your claims.

What is sexual harassment in California?

Sexual harassment can be of three types – physical, verbal or visual, but you might have to deal with a combination of all three.

Physical harassment refers to any type of unwelcome touch. It’s not just touching your breasts or private parts, but any physical contact you’re not comfortable with, such as patting, rubbing, pinching, hugging or brushing up against you. Even if a coworker is gawking at you in a sexually suggestive manner, it’s still harassing behavior though it doesn’t involve physical contact.

Verbal harassment encompasses anything from lewd jokes to requests for sexual favors. If your coworkers make sexual jokes and use derogatory terms for women in their conversation, you can claim sexual harassment even if they weren’t talking to you directly. 

If it’s your boss that asks you for sexual favors or simply suggests that submitting to their request will earn you a nice bonus or promotion, this is a clear case of quid pro quo, one of two main types of sexual harassment in the workplace. The other type refers to situations when you are harassed by coworkers, and is known as a hostile work environment. 

Visual harassment includes displays of sexually-explicit materials in the workplace, such as graphic posters, drawings or cartoons. The term also applies to pornographic materials sent to you via email or messaging apps.

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

How can you prove sexual harassment?

When you make a complaint, your sexual harassment lawyers will have to prove that the offensive acts were of a pervasive nature and severe enough as to cause you mental suffering and to interfere with your job performance.

For instance, if someone says a sexist joke, no matter how offensive, an isolated incident cannot be considered harassment. You’ll have to show that such behavior was the norm and your coworkers routinely made offensive jokes, lewd comments about your looks or used derogatory terms. 

Also, if a coworker asks you on a date, it is not harassment unless they insist after you’ve turned them down and told them you’re not interested.

Your lawyers will also advise you to tell your harassers you find their conduct offensive and ask them to stop. If you play along, respond to their flirting or simply pretend a joke was funny only to hide the fact that it really hurt, any harassment complaint you make afterwards might be dismissed. 

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