Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:
- The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
- The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
- The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
- Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
- The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
The American Association of University Women has some good info and resources for workplace sexual harassment.
Most sexual harassment claims fall under discrimination law. Many states, but not all, have their own Commission Against Discrimination. However, this is not the case everywhere. Check the above link and for details on how to report in your state.
A helpful resource to see if your employer is in compliance with state level regulations of sexual harassment training.
– Before reporting harassment on a legal level, make your supervisors aware of the inappropriate conduct. If there are no consequences or it continues, consider filing a claim. If you can, make complaints in writing or document and date them. This is important when filing legal complaints.