Sexual Harassment in Professional Relationships

If you have been sexually harassed by someone you are in a professional relationship with, California law protects you.

The same general standard of "sufficiently severe or pervasive conduct" which applies to hostile work environment sexual harassment for employees also applies in hostile environment sexual harassment cases brought under California Civil Code §51.9, the statute which prohibits sexual harassment in professional relationships.

California law prohibits sexual harassment in certain business relationships, including professional relationships with physicians, psychiatrists, dentists, attorneys, real estate agents, accountants, bankers, building contractors, executors, trustees, landlords, and teachers.

California Civil Code §51.9
California Civil Code §51.9(a) states that a person is liable in a cause of action for sexual harassment when the plaintiff proves all of the following elements:
    (1) There is a business, service, or professional relationship between the plaintiff and defendant. Such a relationship may exist between a plaintiff and a person, including, but not limited to, any of the following persons:
        (A) Physician, psychotherapist, or dentist.
        (B) Attorney, holder of a master's degree in social work, real estate agent, real estate appraiser, accountant, banker, trust officer, financial planner loan officer, collection service, building contractor, or escrow loan officer.
        (C) Executor, trustee, or administrator.
        (D) Landlord or property manager.
        (E) Teacher.
        (F) A relationship that is substantially similar to any of the above.
    (2) The defendant has made sexual advances, solicitations, sexual requests, demands for sexual compliance by the plaintiff, or engaged in other verbal, visual, or physical conduct of a sexual nature or of a hostile nature based on gender, that were unwelcome and pervasive or severe.
    (3) There is an inability by the plaintiff to easily terminate the relationship.
    (4) The plaintiff has suffered or will suffer economic loss or disadvantage or personal injury, including, but not limited to, emotional distress or the violation of a statutory or constitutional right, as a result of the conduct described in paragraph (2).

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