Sexual harassment takes many forms, but often includes one or more of the following:
The Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) protects employees who are the victims of sexual harassment in addition to those employees who report the sexual harassment of others. FEHA protects both women and men from sexual harassment, and it also prohibits same-sex sexual harassment.
The severity and pervasiveness (frequency) of the harassing conduct is a determining factor in the court’s evaluation of sexual harassment claims. If the severity of the harassment is high—for instance, it involves physical touching—one or fewer instances might suffice to support a claim. But courts generally require more frequent occurrences of less severe instances of harassment for a claim to proceed.
The law also prohibits harassment based on other protected characteristics including real or perceived race, ethnicity, national origin, gender, disability, medical condition, sexual orientation, age and military/veteran status. Harassment claims of a non-sexual nature are often premised on similar conduct, ranging from harmful or offensive touching to the use of offensive language, slurs and jokes in the workplace. Like sexual harassment claims, Courts will evaluate the severity and pervasiveness of the harassment to determine whether the workplace has become sufficiently hostile to support a harassment claim.
Victims of harassment may seek damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress, in addition to past lost wages and future lost wages if resulting from the harassment or any related discriminatory action and attorney's fees and costs. Depending on the position of the individual harasser and the actions taken by the employer--or the employer's failure to act--often both the individual harasser and the employer are named in the suit. Punitive damages can also be assessed.