Employment Discrimination Blog

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace Explained

What behavior constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace?

Sexual harassment is a form of sex or gender discrimination that is illegal in the workplace under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Sexual harassment can encompass a wide range of behaviors and is not always easy for victims to recognize.  Female and male employees alike should make themselves aware of what constitutes sexual harassment so that they can protect themselves from becoming an unwanted victim of employment discrimination in Georgia.

Types of Sexual Harassment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recognizes two types of sexual harassment claims: hostile work environment and quid pro quo.  

Hostile Work Environment

Hostile work environment harassment occurs when the speech or conduct within a workplace is so severe and pervasive that it creates a demeaning or intimidating environment or situation that negatively affects an individual’s job performance.  Hostile work environments are varied and examples of conduct that might create a hostile work environment could include inappropriate sexual comments and jokes, inappropriate touching, offensive pictures on display in the workplace, and more.  

It can be hard to differentiate between a hostile work environment or an occasional off color remark by a lone employee.  Generally, if the sexually offensive conduct is ongoing and hinders your ability to perform work tasks, it has likely created a hostile work environment.  Anyone who suspects they have become the victim of sexual discrimination due to a hostile work environment should report the behavior to the appropriate supervisor or human resources head and contact an Atlanta sex discrimination lawyer.  

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Quid pro quo harassment involves either an express or implied demand for sexual favors in exchange for some benefit in the workplace, such as a raise, or to avoid a detriment, like termination.  While anyone could create a hostile work environment, quid pro quo harassment is perpetrated by someone in a position of authority over another, such as a supervisor over an employee.  Quid pro quo harassment is patently illegal and should be reported immediately.  The victims of sexual harassment should keep records of all evidence of the harassment and contact an employment discrimination attorney.


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