One in three women report experiencing sexual harassment at work

Most report being verbally harassed by male coworkers.

Sexual Harassment Attorneys in Oakland

All employees have the right to freedom from sexual harassment

If you have experienced workplace sexual harassment you are not alone. A survey of 2,235 female employees by a major nationwide magazine uncovered that one in three women have experienced sexual harassment at work. In the past, harassment has often gone unreported. Therefore it is important to understand how the law can protect employees who have been harassed. The sexual harassment attorneys at Erlich Law Firm will listen to your goals and concerns, and can advise you of your legal options.

Sexual harassment happens regardless of career, status, or income, and can take many forms. It may be as extreme as pressure for an unwanted relationship in exchange for employment benefits ("quid-pro-quo" harassment), but may also appear as a pattern of inappropriate sexual language, content, or behavior permeating the workplace ("hostile work environment").

Your employer is required to promptly investigate sexual harassment and take action so that it stops

It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against a worker for reporting sexual harassment. If an employer does not take action to stop the sexual harassment, or terminates an employee for reporting it, then the employee can take legal action to recover damages for any lost pay, pain and suffering. You are also protected when the nature of your employment situation makes it impossible to complain to your employer.

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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. 

The following actions contribute to a hostile work environment

The types of harassing behavior are almost limitless, but some common examples are included below. Regardless of exactly how severe or frequent the harassment is, the law imposes penalties on an employer if they terminate an employee in retaliation for complaining about sexual harassment.

  • Verbal Harassment

  • Physical Contact & Graphic Materials

  • Unwanted Pressure of Advances

  • Other Inappropriate Behavior

Verbal harassment

This most common form of workplace sexual harassment includes:

  • Sexual jokes
  • Spreading sexual rumors or gossip
  • Sexual innuendo
  • Directing inappropriate sexual comments at a coworker
  • Telling sexual stories

Unwanted physical contact or graphic materials

This common form of workplace sexual harassment includes:

  • Unwanted touching of any part of the body for any reason
  • Displaying obscene or pornographic writing or pictures
  • Obscene gestures
  • Harassment of a sexual nature through internet or social media

Unwanted pressure or advances

Unwanted pressure includes:

  • Pressure for sex, physical contact, or romantic involvement
  • Repeatedly asking for dates, after rejection.
  • Excessive and inappropriate personal questions about romantic or sexual life

Most other inappropriate behavior

Other inappropriate behavior includes:

  • Referring to an adult as "girl," "honey," "babe", etc.
  • Whistling or cat calls
  • Almost any other form of unwanted sexual content, or conduct.
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.

Harassment is widely underreported

Most people, both men and women, do not report harassment internally or file a legal complaint. Approximately 70 percent do not talk to a manager, supervisor or union representative and approximately 90 percent do not file a complaint. Even in this environment, 76 harassment charges are filed daily.

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Sexual harassment at work is underreported
What if there is no one to report the harassment to?

The law encourages employees to report sexual harassment using the company's internal complaint procedures, to allow the company to correct the problem. But the law also recognizes it may not be possible to complain, for instance where the harasser owns the business or past complaints were ignored. If you are in an intolerable situation it is best to speak to a sexual harassment lawyer immediately.


Sexual harassment and retaliation

A supervisor sent our client a sexually explicit text/GIF. Months later, the supervisor began to intimidate and threaten our client.


Our sexual harassment lawyers were able to obtain $1.2 million in compensation for emotional distress damages and lost wages for harassment and retaliation.

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A supervisor in the Orange County Public Defender’s office sent a sexually explicit text/GIF to his female subordinate, our client.
He waited 10 minutes for a response and then called telling her it was meant for a friend and to delete it (He later claimed at trial that it was meant for his wife).
The following months, the supervisor began to intimidate and threaten our client. About 3 months after receiving the message, the employee reports the supervisor to Human Resources.
A few months later, the Public Defender sent out an email stating that our client was “not a trustworthy reporter,” to make careful note of what she says, and to have witness while talking to her.
The jury voted unanimously 12-0 and we were able to obtain compensation for lost wages due to harassment and retaliation and damages for severe emotional distress.

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

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.

(510) 390-9140