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Sexual Harassment includes unwanted sexual favors, sexual advances, propositions, and verbal conduct such as epithets, slurs or derogatory comments about a person’s body, appearance or sexual activity. Sexual harassment can also manifest itself through physical means such as assault, impeding or blocking movement, or any other physical interference with normal work or movement. Leers, harassing looks, gestures or derogatory cartoons, posters and drawings also constitute sexual harassment. Unwanted conduct, such as the conduct described above, which is sufficiently severe or pervasive so as to create a hostile work environment is also sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is also gender harassment or sex based harassment – conduct that shows hostility based on gender even though the conduct itself is not sexual in nature (such as women or minorities should not be in the workplace).
There are two major categories of sexual harassment:
Hostile-work environment sexual harassment – where an employer subjects an employee in his/her work environment to unwelcome verbal or physical sexual behavior, or other abusive behavior directed disproportionately against that individual (be it either men or women), that is either severe or pervasive.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment – where the employer conditions decisions or employment on satisfaction of a sexual demand.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as:
• Unwelcome sexual advances and requests for sexual favors.
• Verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
• Comments that are gender-specific, even if not of a sexual nature.
• Offensive remarks about a person’s gender.
• Both victim and harasser can be either a women or a man.
• The victim and harasser can be the same gender.
• The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
The EEOC explains: Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).”
Examples of sexual harassment in the workplace by a boss, supervisor, coworker, or customer may include, but are not limited to, the following:
• Sexual jokes, staring, or touching you in an inappropriate way.
• Insinuates that you will get a promotion, raise, or reward for developing a relationship.
• Displays sexually graphic posters, photos, or magazines where you can see them.
• Forwards emails of jokes or photos that are sexual in nature or make you feel uncomfortable.
• Belittles you or uses sexist or demeaning terms when talking to you.
• Teases you about your sexual orientation.
• Tells sexual jokes, name calls, uses innuendos, asks intrusive questions, or spreads rumors that are sexual in nature.
Although women are the most frequent victims of harassment, sexual harassment is not just a women’s only issue. Anyone can be the victim or perpetrator of sexual harassment. Claims by men are on the rise.
If the harassment is so dangerous or unsettling that you need to quit, this is called constructive termination, constructive dismissal, or constructive discharge. It’s a modified claim of wrongful termination that occurs when an employee resigns due to a hostile work environment. Because the resignation was not truly voluntary, it is in effect, a termination.
No one should be subjected to such harassment. Mr. Tetalman has helped many people obtain fair compensation for sexual harassment they have suffered in an employment situation. If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, call the office of Mr. Tetalman now.