Sexual harassment in the workplace is a type of sexual discrimination that violates title seven of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964. This act makes it unlawful for an employer to discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions, or privileges of employment on the basis of an employee’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. In 1998, the Supreme Court added that it is unlawful to create an abusive work environment through discriminatory intimidation, ridicule, or insult that is severe or pervasive in altering the conditions of a person’s employment.
Violation of the Law
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a violation of both federal and state laws. The federal law applies to any professional organization with more than fifteen employees. State laws have been enacted to extend these protections to organizations with fewer employees. Sexual harassment in the workplace is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other conduct sexual in nature when the response elicited by this behavior affects an individual’s employment or work performance or creates an intimidating or hostile environment.
Types of Workplace Harassment
There are two types of sexual harassment in the workplace. The first is the “quid pro quo” when employment decisions are made on the basis of an employee’s response to sexually-oriented conduct. A blatant ultimatum is not required to constitute sexual harassment in the workplace. A “hostile environment” is created when sexual harassment in the workplace creates an offensive and unpleasant work environment.
The following circumstances constitute sexual harassment in the workplace: harassment by a person of either gender towards a person of either gender, harassment by an employer, supervisor, co-worker, or non-employee, and any unwelcome sexual conduct including that which may or may not directly cause a victim economic injury.
Prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace is ultimately an employer’s responsibility. Employers are encouraged to have sexual harassment in the workplace prevention policy, as well as an effective complaint and grievance process for victims. Employers should understand what type of behavior constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace and make it clear that this behavior will not be tolerated.
What to do
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is important to inform the harasser that their conduct is unwelcome. All employer complaint and grievance processes should be utilized by victims whenever possible. The Federal EEOC also has a complaint process by which victims of sexual harassment in the workplace can seek legal recourse for this violation of their civil rights. It is important to keep in mind that there are time limits placed on when you can file a complaint with the EEOC.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you may wish to confer with a lawyer who can help to protect and maximize your rights in a legal case. Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace have a legal right to recover what they have lost as a result of employment discrimination.