Sexual Harassment

What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment can take many forms including:

  1. Unwanted sexual advances
  2. Offering employment benefits in exchange for sexual favors
  3. Leering or staring; gestures; or displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, cartoons, or posters
  4. Derogatory comments, epithets, slurs, or jokes 
  5. Graphic comments, sexually degrading words, or suggestive or obscene messages or invitations
  6. Physical touching or assault, as well as impeding or blocking movements

It can be perpetrated by anyone, regardless of gender or position within a company.

Actual or threatened retaliation for rejecting advances or complaining about harassment is also unlawful.

Sexual harassment is quite prevalent in the workplace and perpetrators have been found liable numerous times in court. 

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What to do if you think you are being sexually harassed at work

If you are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, there are a few important steps you should take:

  1. Report the incident to your supervisor or HR department.
  2. Keep a written record of the incident, including dates, times, and any witnesses.
  3. Immediately seek legal assistance from the attorneys at MSD LLP.


Statistics on Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace affects millions of employees every year.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center reports that 81% of women and 43% of men reported experiencing some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime. These statistics were corroborated by a survey cited by NPR, which showed a staggering 80% of women have experienced sexual harassment at some point in their lives.

In California, however, according to a report from UC San Diego, reported incidences of sexual harassment are 5 percent higher for women and 10 percent higher for men than the national average.  The study specifically found that:

  • More than 86 percent of women in California (compared with 81 percent nationally) and 53 percent of men (compared with 43 percent nationally) report having experienced some form of sexual harassment and/or assault in their lifetime.
  • Three out of four foreign-born men reported harassment compared to one out of two U.S.-born men living in the state.
  • Four out of five lesbian and bisexual women have faced sexual assault compared with one in four straight women.
  • Three out of four gay and bisexual men have faced aggressive sexual harassment (e.g., stalking, unwanted sexual touching) compared with one out of three straight men.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported receiving 27,291 charges alleging sexual harassment between 2018 and 2021, alone, underscoring the prevalence of this issue nationwide.

Furthermore, according to the Harvard School of Public Health, a majority of LGBTQ+ individuals have experienced sexual harassment because they are LGBTQ+, highlighting the intersectionality of harassment.

Sexual harassment is extremely prevalent and can take many forms. No matter how serious you think your situation may or may not be, you should consult an attorney to understand your rights.

Sexual Harassment Laws in California – Legal Framework

The California Fair Employment and Housing Act (“FEHA”) prohibits, among other things, employment discrimination on the basis of “sex” and “gender.”  FEHA is applicable to employers with five or more employees.


If your case falls within the situations described above, then absolutely. You will want to obtain a case evaluation from one of our attorneys, first, however. While we cannot guarantee results, we only take on cases that we think can win.  So if we take your case, it’s a good sign.


Our results speak for themselves. While we cannot guarantee any results and need to evaluate the facts of your case, we have had significant success litigating sexual harassment cases. If you think you have been sexually harassed, please contact us and we’ll be happy to discuss the circumstances with you, at no cost to you.