Practice/Industry Group Overview
Sexual harassment is a type of sex discrimination that defies Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII addresses employers with at least 15 employees, including those in state and local government. It also covers elements of federal government.
Undesirable sexual advances, demands for sexual favors, and other oral or bodily conduct with a sexual connotation all embody sexual harassment when:
A person's employment is overtly affected
An employee's workflow is unjustly interrupted
A daunting, antagonistic, and offensive work environment is created
There are numerous situations in which sexual harassment occurs. Here are some examples:
The victim and harasser can be a woman or a man. They can be of the same sex as well.
The harasser may be the victim's boss, an agent of the employer, a manager in another department, a coworker, or someone who is not even employed by the same organization.
The victim does not have to be a direct target of the harassment. It could be anyone who is offended by this behavior.
Sexual harassment can occur without the victim experiencing any financial effects or losing their job.
The harasser's actions must be unacceptable. There is no victim if they feed into the harasser's behavior.
Any victim of harassment should confront the harasser face to face and inform them that their behavior needs to end. The victim should also utilize any employee grievance methods available to file a complaint.
The Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) will examine the entire record during a sexual harassment investigation. This includes the overall circumstances, how graphic the advances were, and the context surrounding the situation. A judgment is then formulated from the unique facts of that particular case.
Prevention is the most basic tool to thwart sexual harassment at work, and it should all start from the top down: with the employers. They should let employees know from the time they are hired what the expectations are and that there a variety of methods to combat and report sexual harassment. Employers should offer sexual harassment training courses and establish the groundwork for a grievance system in which complaints are filed promptly, swiftly reviewed by authorities, and the appropriate course of action is taken to remedy the situation.
Under Title VII, it is illegal to retaliate against any individual who:
Disagrees with employers that discriminate based on sex
Files a discrimination charge
Offers testimony or partakes in an investigation or court proceeding