Sexual Harassment in Silicon Valley

Recently, there’s been plenty of news out of the tech sector revolving around sexual harassment. Well-known people like Dave McClure, Chris Sacca, and Travis Kalanick have been in the news concerning this issue.

Sexual harassment in business has been a big problem long before the Internet and current technology industries existed. Because Silicon Valley is in California, I thought I’d take a moment and share a brief overview of sexual harassment law in California. Hopefully, more victims will come forward and hold wrongdoers accountable for their illegal actions.

California Sexual Harassment Laws

Statistics show that one in four women experience sexual harassment in the workplace. Many experience business and career disadvantages and some suffer serious physical and mental health issues including depression, anxiety, loss of self-esteem, interference in their private lives, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Under the Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) of California, sexual harassment in employment takes two forms: (1) quid pro quo (literally, “something for something”) and (2) harassment and hostile work environment harassment.

Sexual harassment revolves around two legal sources. At the state level, the FEHA controls. At the federal level, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes discrimination on the basis of a person’s sex unlawful. In California, the FEHA provides more protection than Title VII. As such, most California victims bring an action for sexual harassment under this Act.

I believe the transparency and community of social media are going to eventually put a stop to sexual harassment. I’ve watched this issue get better over the years with female lawyers in our legal system, and in a similar fashion, I’m seeing a new attitude in business that also does not condone this type of deviant behavior.

Click here for a good overview of sexual harassment law in California.

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