Amazing as it may seem, given public awareness, sexual harassment is still common in the workplace. In fact, it may be even more prevalent now than it was before the advent of social media and communication among supervisors and co-workers by email and text message.

The law prohibits sexual harassment, gender harassment, and harassment because of pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment in California, get in touch with an experienced employment lawyer at your earliest convenience to find out about your legal options. 

Our practice at the Law Office of Michael Hsueh is dedicated exclusively to employment law matters, representing employees whose rights have been violated. If you are dealing with workplace sexual harassment, you can rely on us to fight hard to protect your rights.


The California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) defines sexual harassment as unwanted physical, verbal, or visual conduct of a sexual nature, as well as unwanted sexual advances. Violations under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) include:

  • Physical conduct (touching, blocking, or impeding movements, as well as assault)
  • Verbal propositions or sexual advances
  • Verbal sexual abuse (obscene or suggestive notes, letters, or invitations; describing an individual with sexually degrading words; or graphic commentaries about an individual’s body)
  • Making unwanted sexual advances
  • Reprisals or threats of reprisals for negative responses to sexual advances
  • Offering employment benefits for sexual favors
  • Leering, displaying suggestive pictures, cartoons, posters or objects, or making sexual gestures
  • Making or using derogatory comments, slurs, jokes, or epithets


Sexual harassment on the job can occur in an infinite number of ways, some more subtle than others. However, within the California legal framework, there are two basic types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

Quid pro quo: Literally, the meaning of this Latin term is, “this for that.” A supervisor who conditions employment benefits, such as a promotion, or continued employment on acceptance of the supervisor’s sexual advances and sexually harassing conduct is guilty of quid pro quo harassment. 

Hostile work environment: This is sexual harassment so pervasive or severe that it creates an environment in which an employee could not be reasonably expected to continue to work. It may involve taunts, slurs, ridicule, intimidation, grabbing, groping, or other conduct. As this illegal conduct can be severe OR pervasive, a single instance or harassment, if severe enough, could constitute a hostile work environment. 


Whether or not an employer is liable for sexual harassment depends in part on who was harassing whom. If the person who sexually harassed an employee was a supervisor, the employer is strictly liable under California law. If a co-worker was sexually harassing an employee, then the employer is only liable if a supervisor knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to immediately take appropriate action to correct it.


Sexual harassment is against the law and you should not have to put up with it in the workplace. If you have been a victim of sexual harassment, speak with an experienced employment law attorney as soon as possible. You may have a claim for compensation for the harm you have suffered. Damages you may be entitled to claim include past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, emotional distress, and punitive damages in some cases. 

At the Law Office of Michael Hsueh, we are dedicated to protecting California employees against any violation of their rights, including sexual harassment. We work on a contingency fee basis, meaning you pay us no fees until you obtain a recovery. Contact our office today to arrange for a free case consultation.