Question: Which of the following situations constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace?
All of the above are examples of sexual harassment in the workplace. The #MeToo movement has created national awareness about this egregious problem, giving new voice to victims who suffered silently for years. However, sexual harassment remains a problem in thousands of workplaces across the country.
Sexual harassment is a form of illegal workplace discrimination. Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act defines it as “unwelcome sexual advances, request for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature…”
In addition, certain conditions must be met in order for such behavior to be considered sexual harassment:
Under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, an employer has a duty to protect employees from harassment by outsiders, providing they know or should know the harassment is occurring.
Additionally, while anyone can experience sexual harassment, the vast majority of situations involve males harassing females.
According to a task force study by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):
The law identifies two main types of workplace sexual harassment:
“Quid pro quo” is a Latin phrase meaning “this for that.” This is the most overt form of sexual harassment. An example would be a supervisor who promises to promote an employee in exchange for sexual favors. Or, an employer who threatens to fire or demote a worker who refuses their advances would be guilty of quid pro quo harassment.
Hostile work environment harassment is when an employer, supervisor, or co-worker behaves in a way that makes the victim uncomfortable enough to affect their ability to work. The harasser does not have to make a specific demand for sex or sexually-related favors. Further, the harassment does not have to be sexual in nature. Offensive, stereotypical remarks relating to the victim’s gender can also create a hostile environment.
However, the victim must prove the harassment is severe and ongoing rather than a one-time incident.
“Sexual harassment can have a devastating impact on its victims. It affects a person’s physical and mental health as well as their job performance,” said Mark Bernstein of The Sam Bernstein Law Firm. “If you are a victim of this insidious behavior, call us. We will help you avoid further harassment while we fight to win the compensation you deserve.”
Sexual harassment law is complicated, but finding the right lawyer is simple.
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