How To Avoid Sexual Harassment Cases
The Equal Employment Opportunity commission (EEOC) defines Sexual
Harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors,
or verbal or wage lawyer physical conduct of a sexual nature, when submission to
such conduct is made, whether explicitly or implicitly, a term or
condition of an individual’s employment, submission to or rejection of
such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment
decisions, or when the conduct has the purpose or effect of
unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or
creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive working environment.
Sexual harassment can include a wide variety of behavior and occurs on
various levels, ranging from:
– occasional comments, jokes, touching or gestures
– behavior that persists even after being issued a light, informal
warning or an isolated behavior that is more severe,
– repeated or persistent offensive behavior even after being issued
formal discipline, aggressive touching, or any behavior that is
clearly intended to cause offense, even if isolated.
There are two type of harassment under the legal definition:
1/ Quid-Pro-Quo Harassment
This is the when the employer makes sex a prerequisite to getting
something in the workplace. For example: ” sleep with me and you’ll
get the job.” That’s illegal. This type of sexual harassment is the
“casting couch” cliché. Quid-pro-quo can also include negatives. For
example, “sleep with me or you’re fired” is also illegal.
Obviously, the woman who is fired because she wouldn’t sleep with the
boss can sue.
Take for example a situation where the boss asks one of his assistants
to sleep with him in exchange for a promotion. She does it and gets
the promotion. Under the law, she has a claim, because her agreeing to
his sexual demands was a condition of the promotion. She also has a
claim if she refused and didn’t get the promotion.
However the conduct must be “offensive”. If two employees have a good
time exchanging sexual jokes, it would not be sexual harassment. If
one employee kept telling another employee sexual jokes that the
second employee found offensive, it would be sexual harassment. If two
employees dated and engaged in consensual sex, this would not be
sexual harassment. If one of the two then wanted to terminate the
relationship, and the other used the unequal relative terms and
conditions of employment of the work place to further the
relationship, this would be sexual harassment.