Home General What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in 2019? Types, Tips, and Strategies for Dealing With It

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in 2019? Types, Tips, and Strategies for Dealing With It

by Olufisayo
Sexual Harassment

 The United States EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual behaviors that unreasonably interfere with the performance of one’s job duties. Harassment may range from constant sexual jokes to the posting of offensive material on bulletin boards, and it can happen to anyone, regardless of gender.

Here, you will learn about two types of harassment, employers’ liability, and ways to stop these unwanted behaviors.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual Harassment Types

Under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, there are two kinds of sexual harassment: the creation of a hostile work environment and quid pro quo.

  • Creating a hostile work environment presents grounds for legal action when the behavior is gender-based, unwelcome, or severe enough to make the environment abusive.
  • Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an authority figure demands the tolerance of harassment as a condition of receiving or keeping job benefits. Just one instance of unwelcome grabbing is enough to form a quid pro quo harassment claim, while persistent harassment creates a hostile work environment.

In sexual harassment cases, alleged victims must meet objective and subjective standards. They must prove that they thought the conduct was offensive, abusive, and hostile, and they must show that a reasonable person in similar circumstances would believe the same.

Employers’ Liability

Only companies with 15 or more workers must follow Title VII. For smaller companies, state laws apply. If hostile work environment or quid pro quo harassment is proven, the employer may be liable for punitive and compensatory damages. Liability often depends on the offender and the actions taken to stop the harassment.

Stopping Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

With these standards in mind, a harassment victim bears the burden of trying to stop the unwanted conduct. First, the victim should attempt to end it themselves. If that doesn’t work, refer to the employee handbook to learn the company’s policies on sexual harassment, and escalate the complaint. Be sure to document instances of harassment and supervisors’ actions, as they will strengthen the case.

Informing the Harasser of the Offensive Nature of the Actions

While this is difficult for a harassment victim, it’s usually the best way to put a stop to the behavior. A harasser may not know that his or her behavior is unwanted or offensive, and it’s best to get things under control before they get out of hand. If you’re reluctant to face your harasser, send an email or a letter notifying them that the behavior must stop. It’s important to document your actions as well as the harasser’s responses.

Retaliation is Against the Law

Employers cannot retaliate against workers who file harassment complaints. Though this may be comforting to some, most know that, in real life, some form of retaliation may occur. Therefore, it’s important to get a copy of your HR file before filing a complaint. With this, you’ll be able to document your past performance in the event of a transfer or a demotion. In today’s litigious society, it’s advisable to hope for the best and prepare for the worst.

Hire Legal Counsel Before Filing a Claim for Sexual Harassment

There’s a very thin line between harmless joking and sexual harassment, and as society becomes more politically correct, the line gets thinner by the day. If you’re not sure whether a colleague or supervisor’s conduct rises to the level of sexual harassment, or you need help building a case, it’s best to look for legal assistance.

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