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Responding to sexual harassment in a California workplace

Broadly speaking, there are two types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and a hostile work environment. Quid pro quo involves an exchange, such as submitting to or not reporting unwanted advances in exchange for some benefit. A hostile work environment is one where someone is made to feel uncomfortable in the workplace due to their gender, frequently due to comments or treatment.

If employees feel that they are being sexually harassed, there are a few steps that they can take to make it stop. The first is to be aware of a company's sexual harassment policy, including what the process for reporting it is.

People should be sure to document instances of harassment. While it is frequently recommended that individuals respond directly to harassment and tell their harasser that their behavior is not acceptable, not everyone is able to do this. Documenting harassment and sending it to either superiors or a human resources department can help create a document trail, and it may make others more likely to report their own problems. If harassment persists, people should also go up the chain of command to ensure that supervisors are aware of the issues.

Although there are a variety of ways that people may be able to halt sexual harassment in its tracks, there are some cases where it persists, especially if an employer refuses to act to stop it. This can include turning a blind eye to the harassment or punishing employees who report issues. If someone is in a situation where they are being harassed, a lawyer may be able to explain the options for legal recourse and assist in pursuing them.

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