What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is defined as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature where (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, (2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or (3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Unwelcome Sexual Conduct

Sexual conduct is unwelcome where the person subjected to it considers it unwelcome.

Some Examples of Acts/Conducts of Sexual Harassment:

  • Actual or attempted rape or sexual assault.
  • Unwanted pressure for sexual favors.
  • Unwanted touching, staring, making gestures.
  • Unwanted letters, emails, texts, tweets, messages, etc., of a sexual nature.
  • Unwanted pressure for dates.
  • Unwanted sexual teasing, jokes, remarks,sexual jokes, or questions of a sexual nature.
  • Unwanted discussion of sexual topics, sexual innuendos or stories.
  • Asking about sexual fantasies, preferences, or history.
  • Personal questions about social or sexual life.
  • Sexual comments about a person’s clothing, anatomy, or looks.
  • Telling lies or spreading rumors about a person’s personal sex life.
  • Facial expressions, winking, throwing kisses, or licking lips.
  • Making sexual gestures with hands or through body movements.
  • Making sexual comments about a person’s body.
  • Making sexual comments about a person’s clothing, anatomy, or looks.
  • Repeatedly asking out a person who is not interested.
  • Telling lies or spreading rumors about a person’s personal sex life

Quid Pro Quo Harassment is when employment and/or employment decisions for an employee are based on that employees’s acceptance or rejection of unwelcome sexual behavior. For example, boss, supervisor or upper management asks for sexual favors in return for job security, better pay and perks, promotion, etc. This is the most common and recognizable form of sexual harassment. This is often referred to as a quid pro quo (which is Latin for “favor for favor” or “what for what”). If you refuse, the boss retaliates against you by making your job difficult, and may even demote, transfer or fire you.

Hostile Work Environment is a work environment created by unwelcome sexual behavior or behavior directed at an employee because of that employee’s sex that is offensive, hostile and/or intimidating and that adversely affects that employee’s ability to do his or her job. For example, pervasive unwelcome sexual comments or jokes that continue even though the recipient has indicated that those behaviors are unwelcome. The employer may be held strictly liable for certain damages where the harasser is your boss and part of upper management. The employer may also be liable where you are subjected to sexual harassment by a co-worker and you inform management, and they fail to take any corrective action. The victim can be either a man or a woman.

Relevant Evidence Needed to Prove Case

Employment discrimination cases are among the most difficult in the entire civil litigation system. Often times, the evidence is no more than “he say, she say.” Even where a co-worker witnessed sexual harassment, he/she is unlikely to risk his/her job and assist you in your case. In today’s times, it is imperative that you have some evidence of sexual harassment. The following may be helpful in proving your case:

  • Emails
  • Telephone Messages (Voice mail)
  • Text Messages
  • Letters
  • Social Media Postings
  • Gifts purchased for you
  • Notes Posted around office

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