Sexual Harassment Project

Low-wage workers often face hostile work environments based on sex or other protected characteristics. Unlawful harassment can include offensive remarks, touching, or visual depictions, requiring sexual favors for job retention or advancement, or sexual assault at work. Employers must maintain workplaces free of harassment and must promptly investigate and correct instances of harassment.

LAS-ELC’s Sexual Harassment Project protects the rights of low-wage workers who are victims of harassment based on sex, gender, gender identity, gender expression, or sexual orientation. We provide free legal advice and representation to workers who have been subjected to unlawful workplace harassment. 

Does harassment have to be sexual to be illegal?  

Harassing conduct need not be sexual in nature, or motivated by sexual desire, to be unlawful. However, to be illegal, the conduct must be because of sex, gender, gender expression, sexual orientation, or another protected category. For information about harassment based on disability, race, or national origin, see the LAS-ELC’s Disability Rights, Racial Equality, and National Origin and Immigrants’ Rights Programs.

Is it illegal for a co-worker or non-employee to harass me at work?

Employers may be liable for failing to prevent and correct harassment, whether it is committed by a supervisor, coworker, or third party. 

I’m being harassed by my boss, but my employer has fewer than 5 employees.  What can I do? 

In California, all employees are protected from harassment based on protected characteristics, regardless of the size of the employer. Employees who are subjected to unlawful harassment must file a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing within 1 year of the violation.