Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Hostile Work Environments
Sexual harassment has several forms.
One definition of sexual harassment in the workplace, known as quid pro quo sexual harassment, occurs when sexual conduct is a condition of tangible employment benefits. This includes salary, promotions, and even continued employment. Sexual harassment under this theory constitutes the denial of an employment opportunity because of the individual’s refusal to have sexual or social relations with a supervisor.
Sexual harassment or gender discrimination can be demonstrated in two different circumstances. The first is when a supervisor engages in gender discrimination in the workplace by imposing conditions on the individual. The second is when a supervisor requests sexual favors in return for granting employment opportunities. Both of these are forms of harassment. In each of these situations, gender does not matter. Men and woman can both be the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace. Gender discrimination in the workplace is more common than not. Call us today and we can conduct background checks and employment checks on former employers.
A harassment complaint can only be actionable if it is sufficiently severe and pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment. The sexual harassment must have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. If these elements are present there may be a claim of sexual harassment available against the offending party.
Harassment in the Work Place Points:
- Unlike other discriminatory behavior, it often may be nearly indistinguishable from normal social relations between men and women.
- Sexual harassment and other gender discrimination can violate individual’s rights even if the victim suffers no adverse employment decision or economic impact as a result.
- Sexual harassment and other gender discrimination frequently are practiced in violation of, rather than in compliance with, company policy.
Sexual Harassment Laws
Sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful under both state and federal laws. Simply stated, sexual harassment is an abuse of the employer’s power. There are two types of sexual harassment:
Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an employer conditions any term of employment on the performance of sexual favors. For example, an employer cannot require an employee to engage in sexual conduct to keep from getting fired.
A hostile work environment occurs when an employer maintains an environment where a) offensive conduct of a sexual nature is either tolerated or encouraged and b) that conduct makes others feel uncomfortable or conditions unreasonably interfere with an employee’s performance in the workplace on account of his or her sex. A hostile work environment can also exist on the basis racial discrimination, sexual orientation discrimination, religious discrimination, disability discrimination, or age discrimination. This illegal conduct can include uninvited touching or groping, lewd comments, dirty jokes and even physical assault.
(Legal information courtesy of Cutler & McLeod)
Sexual Harassment Articles
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