Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal; it is a violation of sexual harassment law in the workplace. There exist both federal and state laws meant to protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. Section 703 of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 applies to employers who have got fifteen or more employees. However, this doesn’t mean that people working for smaller companies are not protected; their protection is usually managed by state laws. The sexual harassment law deals both with public and private companies.
Let us now see what is usually meant by sexual harassment in the workplace. In broad terms sexual harassment is the act where:
- The employer makes demeaning comments concerning the employee
- The employer tells sexually explicit jokes
- The employer uses sexually explicit vocabulary
- The employer requests for sexual favors
The plaintiff does not have to be the victim of such a conduct to be able to file a complaint against the employer for sexual harassment. To be able to file a complaint under the sexual harassment law the plaintiff must prove that:
- The employer’s conduct has been offensive or hostile
- Another person in the same or similar position would consider such a behavior hostile or offensive
After 1991, when the US Congress amended the Civil Rights Act, the victims of sexual harassment started getting better remedies under the law. The thing is that the employees who have suffered sexual harassment in the workplace may undergo such damages as sufferings, emotional pain, loss of enjoyment of life and so on. Thus, the plaintiffs may collect both compensatory and punitive damages.
There are two general categories of sexual harassment in the workplace.
- The first one is the so called Quid Pro Quo which means “this for that.” This means that the employer requires certain sexual favors to give employment benefits or promotion to the employee.
- The second category of sexual harassment in the workplace is the so called hostile work environment. Repeated sexual harassment creates a hostile atmosphere in the workplace and it becomes hard for the employee to continue working in that environment.
If you feel that you are subject to sexual harassment in your workplace you should first of all gather evidence that will help you prove that you have really been harassed by the employer or a co-worker. Then you had better hire a skillful attorney who will guide you in contacting the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) to restore your rights.