When California employees think about sexual harassment in the workplace, they probably think about inappropriate conduct involving a man and a woman. Even though it’s not as prevalent as the male-on-female variety, female-on-female sexual harassment can and does occur.
In a poll of women who experienced sexual harassment, 10 percent reported that they had been harassed by another woman while at work. Part of the reason that female-on-female harassment is often overlooked may be due to the sheer number of workplace harassment cases from male coworkers and managers. Another reason, however, may be that some women do not report harassment that they just view as “bothersome.” In some cases, a female employee may consider the harassment as a boundary issue and not a harassment issue.
With that being said, female-on-female harassment is often similar in nature to male-on-female harassment. In fact, a 2009 study that looked at workplace harassment lawsuits that had been filed in Australia showed that about 33 percent of the complaints involved unwanted touching, kissing or hugging. Further, 90 percent of these complaints were filed by workers against managers or supervisors. Ultimately, sexual harassment in the workplace is more about exerting power over the other person.
Sexual harassment at work can have a profound effect on an employee’s mental health and ability to continue completing high-quality work for the employer. If an employer fails to stop and prevent sexual harassment from continuing, an attorney could file a sexual harassment claim. For example, the lawyer may gather evidence through emails, text messages and testimony from the employee and other workers. The attorney might also demonstrate that the employer failed to remedy the situation.