Under Michigan law, sexual harassment is illegal discrimination. It usually occurs when someone – man or woman – makes an unwelcome sexual advance. This offensive and unwanted conduct creates an uncomfortable, intimidating, and “hostile” workplace environment.
Legal Definition of Sexual Harassment in Michigan
Michigan’s Elliot-Larsen Civil Rights Act identifies two broad categories of sexual harassment:
- “Quid pro quo” harassment
- Hostile work environment harassment
According to Section 103 (h) of this law, sexual harassment means unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature when:
- Submission to such conduct or communication is made a term or condition either explicitly or implicitly to obtain employment, public accommodations or public services, education, or housing.
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct or communication by an individual is used as a factor in decisions affecting such individual’s employment, public accommodations or public services, education, or housing.
- Such conduct or communication has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s employment, public accommodations or public service, education, or housing environment.
Applying these laws to real-life situations is complicated. If you or a loved one has experienced employment discrimination, contact us to decide the best course of action.
“Quid Pro Quo” Harassment
Quid Pro Quo is a Latin phrase meaning “this for that.” In other words, it involves an exchange or bargain between two parties. Under Michigan law, any exchange that involves sexual activity in an employment setting is illegal.
Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment may be the most explicit form of harassment. An example of this would be when, an employer or supervisor with authority over a worker demands that she or he provide sexual favors in exchange for continued employment and/or promotion.
Hostile Work Environment
Hostile environment sexual harassment happens in a workplace, when an employer, supervisor, or co-worker does or says things that make the victim feel very uncomfortable because of his or her sex. The harassment occurs even if no one makes a specific demand for sexual favors. Instead, the victim suffers because she or he has to try to work in an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.
To prove a claim for hostile work environment, the harassment must be severe and persistent. Evidence of an occasional offensive remark or sexual joke is not enough. Courts often treat these infrequent comments as just “stray remarks.”
An employer is legally responsible for the harm caused by a hostile work environment, if the employer failed to take prompt and adequate remedial action, after it had reasonable notice of the harassment. Generally, the victim of harassment should promptly report it to management to give the employer notice and an opportunity to investigate the problem.
Complex legal issues arise with claims of hostile environments caused by sexual harassment. However, you do not have to put up with this form of workplace discrimination.
If workplace discrimination has affected you or a loved one, contact us as soon as possible. Submit a simple, free consultation form now.
Types of sexual harassment include:
- Women harassed by men
- Men harassed by women
- Women harassed by women
- Men harassed by men
Sexual harassment victims range from young to old, from executives to unskilled workers, and from married to single. Often, it is unclear why a certain person is singled out. From a legal standpoint, the aggressor’s reason for targeting a victim is irrelevant. The harassment is unacceptable — and illegal.
Contact us if you are subject to any type of unlawful workplace harassment.
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