Sexual harassment has been defined broadly in order to encompass the many forms harassing behavior can take. The foremost authority on sexual harassment is the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The EEOC has provided the following as examples of sexual harassment:
- Comments of an overt or covert sexual nature.
- Quid pro quo (this for that) sexual favors.
- Unwanted touching.
- General comments regarding the gender of the victim.
Sexual harassment is not always in the form of direct behavior. Sexual harassment can be in the form of indirect behavior, creating what is called a “hostile work environment”. If your work environment is filled with jokes of a sexual nature, comments on someone’s sex, or you witness unwanted touching, you may have a claim of a sexual harassment/hostile work environment, even if the behavior is not directed at you.
These are only guidelines on forms sexual harassment. The EEOC and the courts have further made it clear that the behavior must be “severe and pervasive”. This is where people get frustrated over the definition of sexual harassment. The behavior must be more than a mere passing comment that is non-serious. It is often on-going, relentless behavior that affects your ability to perform your job.
The conduct must be severe or on-going to qualify. If you think you might be the victim of this kind of treatment contact us for further review.