Under the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment
in the workplace is defined as unwelcome sexual advances or conduct of
a sexual nature that unreasonably interferes with a person’s job
performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Offensive sexual jokes or inappropriate physical contact are just a few
examples of what constitutes
sexual harassment in the workplace.
There are laws in place at both the federal and state level to protect
workers from experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. Under Title
VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment is considered a
form of sex discrimination.
Different Types of Sexual Harassment
There are two kinds of sexual harassment that are recognized under Title VII:
- Quid Pro Quo
- Hostile Work Environment
When a person in authority demands their subordinates to tolerate sexual
harassment as a condition of getting or keeping their job or job benefits,
it is a form of quid pro quo harassment. A pattern of this type of harassment
qualifies as a hostile work environment.
Courts use the following elements to determine if a hostile work environment
claim is valid:
- Was the conduct verbal, physical, or both?
- What was the frequency of the conduct?
- Was the conduct hostile or patently offensive?
- Was the alleged harasser a co-worker or supervisor?
- Did others join in perpetrating the harassment?
- Was the harassment directed at more than one person or was the victim singled out?
Plaintiffs in sexual harassment cases must show the following:
- They believe the workplace conduct was hostile, abusive, or offensive.
- A reasonable person in their position would also believe the workplace
conduct was hostile, abusive, or offensive.
How Can I Stop Sexual Harassment at Work?
You should first try to stop the harassment yourself. If your efforts do
not work, review your employee handbook or manual and see what policies
your company has regarding sexual harassment and where you can take your
complaint to. Make sure to document every instance of sexual harassment
that you experience, this will make your case stronger.
If you are uncomfortable approaching your harasser, you should write a
brief letter or email that informs them to stop their behavior. If you
are still uncomfortable with this approach, inform a supervisor about
your complaints. Make sure to use your company email for all correspondences
regarding sexual harassment and document all responses that you receive.
If the harassment continues after you have taken the steps above, you should
immediately consult with an experienced attorney to discuss what legal
actions can be taken against your harasser.
Contact our Hollister employment law attorney
to schedule a free case consultation today.