It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, it can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC)—the agency tasked with enforcing Title VII—defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature” when such behavior affects an individual’s employment or creates an intimidating or offensive workplace environment.
Sexual harassment is usually categorized in one of two ways: “quid pro quo” or “hostile environment.”
Quid Pro Quo
Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs where, for example, an employer demands sexual favors from an employee for the employee to keep their job or in exchange for something which affects the employee’s job, like a raise or promotion.
Hostile environment sexual harassment is characterized by a pattern of offensive, unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other sexual conduct which interferes with an employee’s ability to perform their job and creates an intimidating, hostile, or abusive work environment. This type of sexual harassment may be less obvious or straightforward than quid pro quo sexual harassment and can include inappropriate suggestive remarks or gestures, questions about an employee’s sexual preferences, and sexual touching, among other things.
You do not have to tolerate sexual harassment in your workplace or school. Contact us today for the experience, support, and dedication you need to handle a sexual harassment lawsuit.