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Discrimination and Harrassment

Know Your Rights

Discrimination and Harassment

Sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is a criminal offense. If you believe that you are being sexually harassed, it is important to act promptly to both protect yourself from further harassment and to protect your rights under the law.

Sexual harassment laws

There are two types of sexual harassment, both of which are illegal. One is quid pro quo harassment, and the other is hostile work environment harassment. In some instances, an employee may be subject to both types of harassment.

Quid pro quo harassment occurs where an employer grants an employee's continued employment, promotions, salary increases, better working conditions, etc. in exchange for sexual favors.

Hostile work environment harassment happens when the employee's working conditions are made intolerable because of that employee's gender. Hostile work environment harassment can take many forms ranging from verbal comments, unwanted physical touching, spreading false rumors about the employee, hostile or sexist comments and jokes, negative performance reviews and the like.

If you believe that you are being sexually harassed, it is important to act promptly to both protect yourself from further harassment and to protect your rights under the law. Also, the longer you delay, the more likely the employer will claim that the conduct was not unwelcomed and therefore did not constitute sexual harassment.

As a general rule, it is always advisable to keep a detailed record of events as they occur. This will help you to recall specific details months or years after the event took place. It will also be valuable as documentary evidence should you decide to bring legal action based on the sexual harassment.

Protect your legal rights
Sexual harassment is a criminal offense. In order to bring a sexual harassment lawsuit to a state or federal court, it is mandatory that you first file an administrative charge of sexual harassment with either the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing (DFEH) or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). You may want to see if the matter can first be resolved less formally, but you should also be aware of the strict filing deadlines required by the DFEH and EEOC.

From the time of the sexual harassment incident, you have one year to file a claim with the DFEH and 300 days to file with the EEOC. You could lose your right to sue if you miss these deadlines, and filing a complaint with your employer will not substitute for filing a charge with the either the DFEH or EEOC. Listing for both agencies can be found in the government section of your telephone directory.

CSEA can help
If you think that you have been sexually harassed, CSEA can help. Contact your Labor Relations Representative.

Anti-discrimination laws
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces anti-discrimination laws covering race, age, gender, disabilities among others. For more information about these laws and for links to additional resources, log on to the EEOC Job Discrimination Questions and Answers page.

Employment and housing laws
For what reasons may an employee take leave under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA)? How long may a woman be off work for pregnancy? Can an employer fire a person who is out sick?

Find the anwers to these questions and more on the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing website: www.dfeh.ca.gov

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Last Update: 7/15/2019