California Workplace Sexual Harassment Statistics [2024 Updated]

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Workplaces should be safe environments that are free from sexual harassment. However, it is an unfortunate reality that many workers experience sexual harassment. Whether a worker is touched inappropriately by one of their coworkers or coerced into performing a sexual act by their superior in exchange for a raise or a promotion, sexual harassment is wrong. It can be helpful to examine California workplace sexual harassment statistics and national facts about sexual harassment.

Sexual Harassment in California Compared to Other States

When examining the prevalence of sexual harassment charges across the United States, California is fortunately not among the top 10 states with the most sexual harassment charges. According to the most recent available data from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, the states that top the list of sexual harassment charges of people aged 16 or older are as follows in alphabetical order:

  • Alabama
  • Arkansas
  • Georgia
  • Kansas
  • Louisiana
  • Missouri
  • Mississippi
  • Nevada
  • Tennessee
  • Washington, D.C.

Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Kansas, and Tennessee had the highest rates of sexual harassment in the top 10 states. From this data, it is apparent that the states in the South have a disproportionately higher number of sexual harassment charges compared to northern or western states.

Reporting Sexual Harassment

Sadly, behaviors that qualify as sexual harassment often go unreported, leaving the people who commit acts of sexual harassment free from the consequences of their actions. The National Sexual Violence Resource Center, or NSVRC, details that 85% of people who experience sexual harassment never file formal legal charges. Additionally, about 70% of workers who experience sexual harassment never complain internally to their employer.

Sexual Harassment and Retaliation

There are many reasons why individuals who experience sexual harassment might not feel compelled to file an official report against their harasser. Feelings of shame or guilt are not uncommon for sexual harassment victims to experience, even though they’re not at fault for their harassment. Another potential factor that deters victims of sexual harassment from reporting their abuse is fear of employer retaliation.

While unjust and unfair, it is not uncommon for an employer to fire or punish employees who speak out against sexual harassment in their workplace. The EEOC states that 43.5% of sexual harassment complaints were filed concurrently with retaliation charges between the years of 2018 and 2021. If you are facing employer retaliation for speaking up against sexual harassment, it is advisable to speak with an attorney who has a background in employment law.

Sexual Harassment and Demographics

Victims of sexual harassment can be any age, sexual orientation, sex, or gender identity. Conversely, so can perpetrators of sexual harassment. In some cases, victims of sexual harassment share the same sex or gender identity with their harasser. It is possible for women to sexually harass other women and for men to sexually harass other men in the workplace.

The NSVRC provides the following statistics about sexual harassment and gender in the workplace:

  • 14% of men and 38% of women have reported being sexually harassed in the workplace.
  • One out of 17 men and one out of seven women have decided to seek a new job or quit their job due to sexual harassment.

While both men and women experience sexual harassment, victims are women in the majority of cases. 78.2% of charges were filed by women, according to the EEOC report previously referenced. The NSVRC also states that 60% of women have experienced sexually crude conduct, sexist comments, and sexual coercion in the workplace. Additionally, nine out of 10 women are sexually harassed in certain industries.


Q: How Many Cases of Workplace Harassment Are Filed Each Year?

A: The number of cases of workplace harassment that are filed each year varies from one year to the next, but the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, or EEOC, reports that they received 98,411 charges of harassment in a three-year period. The EEOC is the division of the federal government that enforces laws that make workplace harassment and discrimination illegal in the United States.

Q: How Common Is Sexual Assault in California?

A: In California, at least one in three women and one in four men report experiencing sexual assault that involves physical contact in their lifetime, according to the California Department of Public Health. Because sexual assault sometimes goes unreported, these numbers could be even higher.

If you have been sexually assaulted, it is important to report your abuser and file an official police report about the incident. You may also consider speaking with an attorney who has experience representing victims of sexual harassment to understand your options from a legal perspective.

Q: What Is the Rate of Harassment in the Workplace?

A: The rate of harassment in the workplace is 23% according to the International Labour Organization. This means that more than one in five people around the world experience harassment in their place of work. While cultural views around workplace harassment vary from one country to another, workplace harassment and violence is a common problem and unfortunate reality for many employees across the globe.

Q: What Percent of Workplace Harassment Is Reported?

A: The percentage of unreported workplace harassment varies depending on the type of harassment. Fewer than 15% of workers who experience sexual harassment officially file formal charges against their abuser. This is according to a National Sexual Violence Resource Center statistic that, more than 85% of sexual harassment victims do not file official reports of their abuse.

It is not unusual for workers to avoid filing charges due to fear of retaliation from their employer.

Representation for Sexual Harassment Victims

The legal team at MM Law knows that sexual harassment in the workplace is all too common. We work with compassion to defend the rights of sexual harassment victims. If you fear retaliation for reporting sexual harassment you experienced on the job, we can help ease your concerns with our in-depth knowledge of California employment law. Contact MM Law today to discuss the details of your case and learn how we can guide you through the legal process.

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