One in three women report experiencing sexual harassment at work

Most report being verbally harassed by male coworkers.

#MeToo Attorneys in Oakland

Sexual harassment in the workplace is an issue that has persisted for many years.

If the recent prevalence of viral hashtags like #MeToo and #YesAllWomen has demonstrated anything, it is that sexual harassment is a common experience and goes unchecked, despite more awareness surrounding the issue than ever before.

If you have experienced sexual harassment at work, you are not alone. You may be unsure of how to proceed or afraid of retaliation. Depending on the details of your case, though, you could be entitled to compensation. The sexual harassment attorneys at Erlich Law Firm will listen and help you determine your best course of action.

The history of #MeToo

The #MeToo movement has been built over recent years with undeniable momentum. It has become an expression of solidarity, and a battle cry, that is now deeply ingrained in our culture.

“Me Too” was first coined by civil rights activist Tarana Burke, as a way to help unite survivors of sexual assault. More than a decade later, in 2017, actress Alyssa Milano reignited the phrase with a tweet that encouraged others who had been sexually assaulted or harassed to reply with a “me too.” The response was huge, and #MeToo quickly went viral.

Since then, there has been increasing awareness of sexual harassment and assault. Many people have found the courage to tell their stories, and new accusations of sexual misconduct emerged. Some of those accusations led to very powerful men in entertainment and politics being held accountable for their actions like never before, including Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Matt Lauer, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey, Jeffrey Epstein, R. Kelly and many others. Some were charged with crimes and sentenced to jail, and others lost their jobs, all of them were subject to public scorn.

The #MeToo movement remains a force to be reckoned with, and one that is not going away any time soon.

What is Sexual Harrassment?

Sexual harassment does not have an exact legal definition. It can come in many forms. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as: "Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature…when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment."

Two general types of sexual harassment exist, quid pro quo, which translates to "this for that" and hostile work environment.

Quid pro quo harassment is a situation in which something is offered in exchange for sexual contact or favors. For example, the "Quid" is a job, raise or promotion, and the "Quo" is your sexual or romantic favor in return. A hostile work environment is a sum of ongoing inappropriate and unwelcome actions that contribute to difficult or abusive working conditions. In hostile work environment cases, courts often apply the standard that if a "reasonable person" would think the harassment was hostile or abusive, then there is a hostile work environment. One reason for this standard is to eliminate frivolous or unreasonable claims.

What types of harassment are women reporting in the workplace?
Types of harassment women report at work
What Creates a Hostile Work Environment?

A hostile work environment occurs when an employee is repeatedly subject to unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. The behavior has to be severe enough, or happen often enough, that any reasonable person would feel the situation was abusive and altered the conditions of employment. 

What can constitute sexual harrassment?

Many behaviors and actions could potentially constitute sexual harassment, which is why it is not always clear when it has occurred. Sexual harassment can come from a supervisor, co-worker, a customer, contractor or vendor. The harassment may happen at the workplace, or outside of work. Some real-life examples:

workplace sexual harassment lawyer

1) A supervisor suggesting that having sex would guarantee a promotion

2) An associate attempting to engage in sexual contact during a business meeting or discussion

3) A manager sending inappropriate texts, photos, emails or messages

4) A co-worker openly viewing sexually explicit or pornographic images and videos

5) A client making rude or overtly sexual comments about someone's body

The number of other scenarios that would also constitute harassing behavior is countless, which is why it can be helpful to consult one of the sexual harassment attorneys at Erlich Law Firm if you are not sure you have been harassed.

What is Quid Pro Quo Harassment?


Pressure for favors: Quid Pro Quo harassment

If someone with power pressures a coworker into an unwanted relationship in exchange for employment opportunities, then that is a very severe form of sexual harassment.

When this happens, contact a sexual harassment lawyer immediately.


This in exchange for that

The legal term quid pro quo is derived from a Latin phrase meaning roughly “this, in exchange for that.”

The most common situation is where someone with power in the organization promises a raise or promotion, or threatens to fire, or harm the reputation of an employee. This may be a boss, or some other powerful figure, and the threat may be clear, or implied. You should never have to tolerate this type of pressure in the workplace.

Sexual harassment affects women and men and can be perpetrated by anyone

Although women experience the vast majority of sexual harassment, victims of sexual harassment may be female or male, and their harassers may be of the same or opposite sex. Most importantly, the offender's sexual conduct is unwanted by the victim. Sexual harassment can occur to anyone in any industry. There does not need to have been economic or employment consequences for sexual harassment to be illegal, nor does the victim need to be the person targeted by the harassing behaviors. Anyone who is negatively affected by the offensive actions could potentially have a sexual harassment case.

Sexual harassment is underreported
Sexual harassment at work is underreported

Sexual harassment by the numbers

Sexual harassment is difficult to quantify and is severely underreported. According to reports used in a  study conducted by the EEOC, between 25 to 85 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment at work. The wide range in figures can be attributed to things like the sampling methods used by researchers or the way sexual harassment was defined by the study.

Even at the low end, one in four women being sexually harassed at work is far too many.

Anywhere from 25 to 85 percent of women have experienced sexual harassment at work.
From 87 to 94 percent of incidents go unreported.
Even with low reporting rates, there are still around 76 sexual harassment charges filed a day.

How to handle sexual harassment

If you feel that you are being subjected to sexual harassment at work, it is crucial to take steps that will either end the offensive behavior or strengthen your case should you need to take additional action.

Management should be given a chance to address any complaint it receives and end the harassment. However, if there is no one in the company to speak with about your concerns (for example, when the abuser is the person to whom you would report or if other complaints have been ignored in the past), if the harassment continues and/or if you feel you are being treated poorly or that your job is at risk because of speaking up about sexual harassment, it could be time to speak with an employment lawyer who handles sexual harassment cases.

Ask the harasser to stop what they are doing. 

Make them aware of how the behavior bothers you and violates the code of conduct in the workplace.

If the issue persists or is particularly grievous, notify a superior or the appropriate office. 

After notifying a supervisor, begin the process of filing a formal complaint, as per company policy.

Keep detailed notes on incidences of sexual harassment.

After notifying a supervisor, begin the process of filing a formal complaint, as per company policy.

Client testimonials

Jason took the time to explain and guide me through the challenging process, and went the extra steps in consistently providing guidance and putting my concerns and questions high on their list.

Jeff V., Oakland

Jason Erlich made me feel like I was in the right place right away.I had some serious problems with a previous employer and he took care of everything. From the start he helped with my concerns and fears going up against a big corporation.

Susan W., Pacifica

With Jason’s expertise, commitment and aggressiveness, the case is now over and it’s only been 6 months!! I would HIGHLY recommend Jason Erlich to anyone that needs an employment lawyer.

Carla, Petaluma

I can highly recommend Jason Erlich Esq. for any employment law matter. He is an outstanding lawyer, embodies a mix of honesty, knowledge, client care and tough mindset.

Roger J., Oakland

Call for a free case evaluation

The sexual harassment attorneys at Erlich Law Firm are committed to helping those who have experienced sexual harassment at work get the compensation they deserve. We understand how difficult it can be to pursue a harassment complaint and will provide you with compassionate, thorough care at every step in your case. 

We understand it can be difficult to come forward in cases of workplace harassment. The experienced sexual harassment attorneys at Erlich Law Firm are available to answer your questions or concerns. We will investigate your case and fight on your behalf for the compensation you deserve. Call us for a free consultation.

(888) 465-5110