Both California and federal laws prohibit same-sex sexual harassment 

If you ever thumb through your employee handbook or think back to any orientation you might have received, then you’ll likely be able to identify some of the many behaviors that constitute sexual harassment. 

You may not remember reading or learning how sexual harassment is illegal no matter whether a customer, colleague, vendor or supervisor doles it out. While you may remember discussing someone of the opposite sex harassing you, it’s also unlikely that you heard about someone of the same sex doing so. All of the above-referenced acts are illegal. 

What laws make same-sex harassment unlawful?

The federal law, known as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, makes same-sex harassment unlawful. The California Fair Employment and Housing Act is the state-equivalent law that does the same. 

What might same-sex sexual harassment look like?

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has a report in which they outline the many different undesired sexual advances that may constitute harassment, including: 

  • Belittling someone
  • Engaging in sexually-oriented conversations
  • Humiliation
  • Embarrassment
  • Horseplay
  • Displaying sexually-oriented gestures

As far as same-sex harassment allegations, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has also previously received reports of:

  • Colleagues asking their peers about their sexual history or bodies
  • Supervisors encouraging their supervisees to wear more revealing clothing to advance their careers or attract additional customers
  • Upper-level management inappropriately making contact with their employees

Many employees don’t realize that it’s unlawful for their same-sex employers to harass them since training doesn’t often discuss this. Some employees notify their employers of the ill-treatment they received once they discover that it’s illegal, yet it often goes unaddressed by their company. Many workers leave their jobs as a result. Others file EEOC claims. 

A work environment where an employer participates in or allows harassment to exist is a potential hostile workplace. It’s unlawful for an employer to allow this type of situation to exist. An attorney can advise you of your rights if your workplace has become toxic and no one seems to be willing to do anything about it.