Sexual Harassment Resources
The following compilation provides some resources available for sexual harassment matters in the San Francisco Bay Area. The inclusion of any resource on the list is not an endorsement or recommendation by the Department on the Status of Women. Information changes over time. Users are encouraged to check with individual resource providers for the most up-to-date and accurate information. For resources specific to employees of the City and County of San Francico, visit the Discrimination and Sexual Harassment Information page. You must decide for yourself whether any particular person or organization suits your needs or purposes. If you have information on additional resources, please send it to the Department on the Status of Women by email to firstname.lastname@example.org or fax it to (415) 252-2575.
The Community Board Programs - Conflict Resolution Resources
601 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 2040
San Francisco, CA 94102
Telephone: (415) 920-3820
Legal or Technical Resources
Bar Association of San Francisco
Lawyer Referral Service
301 Battery Street, Third Floor
San Francisco, CA 94111
ph: (415) 982-1600
California Employment Lawyers Association
180 Grand Ave., Suite 1300
Oakland, CA 94612
ph: (818) 703-0587, fx: (818) 703-0591
“Find a CELA Member” attorney who specializes on specific practice areas and language(s) spoken.
Chinese for Affirmative Action
17 Walter U Lum Place,SF, CA 94108
ph: (415) 274-6750, fx: (415) 397-8770
Coalition for Labor Union Women
815 16th St. NW
Washington, DC 20006
ph: (202) 508-6969, fx: (202) 508-6968
Dept of Fair Employment and Housing
2218 Kausen Drive, Suite 100
Elk Grove, CA 95758
ph: (916) 478-7251
Disability Rights Education & Defense Fund
3075 Adeline St Suite 210, Berkeley, CA 94703
ph: (510) 644-2555
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, San Francisco District Office
450 Golden Gate Avenue
5 West, P.O Box 36025
San Francisco, CA 94102-3661
ph: 1-800-669-4000, fx: (415) -522-3415
La Raza Centro Legal
474 Valencia St #295, San Francisco, CA 94103
ph: (415) 575-3500
Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights of the San Francisco Bay Area
131 Steuart Street, Suite 400
San Francisco, CA 94105
ph: 415.543.9444, fx: 415.543.0296
Legal Aid Society–Employment Law Center
180 Montgomery Street, Suite 600
San Francisco, CA 94104
ph: (415) 864-8848, fx: (415) 593-0096
TTY/TDD Line: (415) 593-0091
National Center for Lesbian Rights
870 Market Street, Suite 370
San Francisco, CA 94102
ph: 415.392.6257, fx: 415.392.8442
Legal Help Line : 1.800.528.6257 or 415.392.625
National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights
310 8th St #303
Oakland, CA 94607
ph: (510) 465-1984
San Francisco Human Rights Commission
25 Van Ness Avenue, 8th Floor
San Francisco, CA, 94102
ph: (415) 252-2500
Transgender Law Center
1629 Telegraph Avenue, Suite 400
Oakland, CA 94612
ph: (415) 865-0176, fx: (877) 847-1278
US Dept. Of Labor, Women's Bureau Region IX San Francisco
90 7th Street, Suite 2-650
San Francisco, CA 94103
ph: (415) 625-2638, fx: (415) 625-2641
Winer, McKenna & Burritt, LLP
580 California Street
San Francisco, CA 94104
Free consultation: 800-701-6324
Research and Reports
California Restaurant Association: An Employer's Guide to Dealing with Sexual Harassment
With the influx of so many lawsuits and complaints in this area, sexual harassment is an issue that no California employer can afford to ignore—especially restaurants.This report generally discusses the law regarding sexual harassment, the behavior for which employers can be held liable and the methods employers may use to protect themselves from sexual harassment claims. Please note that this report is not intended to be all-inclusive. The CRA advises all employers to seek legal assistance if they are concerned about sexual harassment in their restaurants.
Equal Rights Advocates: Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Toolkit
The materials in this toolkit are intended to provide information and guidance to advocates from workers’ centers and membership organizations,community based organizations, and unions when they assist their members who have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace and/or retaliation for reporting it. Equal Rights Advocates also provides a know your rights guide for sexual harassment at work.
National Women’s Law Center, Low Wage Workers Need Strong Protections from Harassment
The National Women’s Law Center is a non-profit organization whose mission is to expand the possibilities for women and girls by working to remove barriers based on gender, open opportunities, and help women and their families lead economically secure, healthy, and fulfilled lives—especially low-income women and their families.
Sexual Harassment: It's Not Academic
Sexual harassment in schools, published by the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights.
Stopping Sexual Harassment: An AFSCME Guide
Sexual harassment issues from the viewpoint of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), a union representing public employees.
Click here for resources for employees of the City and County of San Francisco.
Individual Human Resource Offices
Check with your company's own HR dept. or Employee Assistance Program (EAP) to file a complaint internally.
If you are a member of a union, research what resources they will provide for you.
Check with your health plan for coverage of costs associated with experiencing sexual harassment on the job.
Frequently Asked Questions About Sexual Harassment
Q: Can my employer retaliate against me for filing a sexual harassment claim?
A: No. Federal law prohibits retaliation against employees who report unlawful employment practices or who file a claim for workplace discrimination. You are also protected from retaliation for appearing as a witness in another employee's sexual harassment lawsuit.
Q: Is sexual harassment only men harassing women?
A: No matter who is harassing whom, it can be sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is verbal or physical abuse that amounts to discrimination against a person because of his or her sex. If the harassment is between two people of the same sex, the person who is being harassed must show that the harassment was based on his or her sex (not just the sexual desire, if any, of the harasser). The person suffering harassment also must have been treated differently than members of the opposite sex were treated.
Q: Is it sexual harassment if I ask a co-worker for a date?
A: Some employers have responded to sexual harassment claims, or the threat of such claims, by enacting policies against dating or intimate relationships between co-workers. While there is no law that requires such a policy, in most states there is no law that forbids such a policy. If your employer does not have a policy against employees dating one another, it is best if you follow a "one strike and you're out" rule. If you ask a co-worker for a date, and the co-worker lets you know that he or she is not interested, don't ask again. Repeated requests for a date may constitute harassment, while a single, polite request probably will not.
Q: I had an intimate relationship with a co-worker but broke it off. If that co-worker harasses me, can I still bring a claim for sexual harassment?
A: A sexual harassment claim is based on unwelcome conduct. If you have made it clear to your co-worker that you have no further romantic interest in him or her, any unwelcome sexual attention that is severe or pervasive could be the basis for a harassment claim. You must make it very clear to your co-worker that the attention is unwelcome. If you do, your prior relationship will not excuse his or her harassment.
Q: If a co-worker or supervisor comments on my clothing or appearance, is that sexual harassment?
A: It depends on the nature of the comment. Telling an employee to dress more professionally is unlikely to be seen as sexual harassment. Frequently suggesting to an employee that she wear more revealing clothes as a way to impress the boss, however, could be seen as sexual harassment. Likewise, an innocuous compliment, such as "that's a nice sweater," would not be harassment; but if it were followed up with a sexual reference ("it really shows off your body"), that type of behavior would be inappropriate. The key is whether the behavior, occurring because of the sex of the employee, creates a hostile or abusive work environment.
Q: I was denied a promotion, and I've learned that the promotion went to my supervisor's boyfriend. Is this sexual harassment?
A: Not necessarily. This is more akin to nepotism than sexual harassment. If the business exists in an environment where sexual favors are required of employees who wish to receive promotions or other favorable treatment from supervisors, however, this could be viewed as sexual harassment. But when a supervisor promotes his or her romantic partner in an isolated incident, that is usually not actionable under sexual harassment law.
Q: A fellow employee spends a lot of time downloading pornography from the internet to his work computer. Is this sexual harassment?
A: It depends. Is this employee's computer screen visible to anyone who passes? Does he draw others' attention to what he has downloaded? Does he continue to download pornography after he has been told that others find it offensive? If so, this could be sexual harassment — just because the activity is not directed at you does not mean that you cannot be affected.
Q: The other day, a fellow employee told me a joke that had mild sexual content. I wasn't offended by it, and we both found the joke to be funny. Today, we both got a memo from our boss saying our conduct was inappropriate and a potential violation of the company's sexual harassment policy. Was the joke harassment?
A: While one joke alone may not be harassment, it could be part of a hostile environment. In this situation, you need to remember that the question is not whether you or the employee who told the joke was offended, but whether a "reasonable person" would find it offensive. The other point to remember is that someone must have found the joke offensive enough to report it, causing the boss to send the memo. This should be a warning that not everyone you work with shares your opinion as to what is or is not offensive. Take it as a sign that you need to be more careful with what you say at work.
Q: A regular customer of my employer makes offensive sexual remarks every time I see him. Is this sexual harassment?
A: It could be sexual harassment. You should report the problem and give your employer a chance to fix it (for example, making sure you don't have to deal with this customer). It will be considered harassment if your employer knew about it and did nothing to correct the problem.
Q: Is sexual harassment ever a criminal matter?
A: The harasser's actions may be a crime, depending on the state in which they occurred. If the sexual harassment consisted of a physical attack, criminal sexual conduct, stalking, threats or another crime, the harasser may face criminal penalties.