We Protect Workers

Defining sexual orientation harassment

Most people spend the majority of their weeks, and even years, at their jobs. Therefore, when another co-worker’s actions make the environment hostile, it can create a negative experience.

Thankfully, there are certain measures in place to help prevent or address such instances. The first step is to identify the action. In regards to sexual orientation harassment, there are a few things to keep in mind.


As the name indicates, sexual orientation harassment is harassment based on a party’s sexual orientation. It is important to understand that harassment and discrimination are not the same, though harassment is a form of discrimination. Harassment, in particular, consists of repeated intrusive actions that would create a hostile environment for any reasonable person. It is important to note that the repetitive nature of the offense does play a part in deeming the acts as harassment.


Currently, no federal laws or regulations outlaw sexual orientation harassment. However, related laws have some application, such as sex-based discrimination laws. Also, in the state of California, there is a state law that prohibits sexual orientation discrimination in both public and private sectors. Understanding the parameters of these laws can be quite beneficial in determining how they relate to a particular situation.


Many companies have protocols in place to limit or eliminate occurrences of discrimination. As such, they should also have a reporting system in place for times when parties still believe discrimination is occurring. Parties should try to utilize these avenues first. However, if no resolution occurs, or if a resolution seems to be ineffective after several attempts, further actions, such as a claim, may be necessary.

No one deserves harassment on the job, or anywhere else. If you or a loved one face sexual orientation harassment, consider consulting with an attorney to determine your best option moving forward.