Many workers in California have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace. If you are one of these workers, you may not understand what type of harassment took place or what legal recourse is available to you. Perhaps you are under the mistaken impression that the law only protects you from harassment by an employer or a superior. This is not true. According to FindLaw, there are laws in place to protect you from sexual harassment in the workplace regardless of whether the harassment comes from a co-worker or a superior.
There are two types of harassment recognized under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964: hostile work environment and quid pro quo.
Hostile work environment
When the conduct of a co-worker or supervisor is sexually based, unwelcome and pervasive or severe enough to foster an atmosphere of abuse within the workplace, your co-worker has harassed you by creating a hostile work environment, and you may have grounds to take legal action. In order to prove your claim, you will usually need to establish a pattern of harassment to the court.
Quid pro quo
This is a Latin term meaning "something for something." When this type of harassment occurs, a supervisor demands sexual favors from you in exchange for job-related benefits, such as a raise or promotion, or as a condition of employment, either keeping the job you already have or gaining a new one. Unlike hostile work environment harassment, you do not need to establish a pattern of quid pro quo harassment to satisfy the claim; one instance is enough. Also, while anyone can create a hostile work environment, only those in positions of authority over others can commit quid pro quo harassment because they are in a position to bestow or withdraw work-related privileges from subordinates.
The information in this article is not intended as legal advice but provided for educational purposes only.