Sexual harassment and OSHA

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2012 | Sexual Harassment |

It has been suggested that sexual harassment at the workplace in Indianapolis or other localities could be a recognized hazard under OSHA standards. Employees upset or distracted by the actions of others construed to be sexual harassment will also be more susceptible to accidents and mistakes on the job.

Without question, sexual harassment will have adverse effects are the harassed workers health and safety while on the job. Approximately 12,000 employees file Title VII claims with the EEOC related to sexual harassment each year. Such claims can include verbal threats by employers or co-workers, confinement and even physical assault or other workplace violence.

OSHA does require employers provide a workplace environment that is free from recognized hazards. Many such hazards can be specifically associated with the presence of sexual harassment at the workplace.

Specifically, sexual harassment poses a threat to safety and health for the worker in the following ways:

  • Increased stress that can lead to other adverse health effects
  • Decreased safety because of the distraction caused by sexual harassment
  • Decreased productivity because of labor and management are not working well together
  • Intimidation leading to a failure to report various safety issues
  • Workplace violence

Some such elements may not specifically be related to OSHA requirements as certain of these items may be random and unassociated with characteristics of employment. For any one of these items we’d have to look at the specific facts to determine if OSHA requirements have been violated.

Whether OSHA would or would not cover certain of these acts, sexual harassment at the workplace is still prohibited by state and federal law. Attorneys experienced in litigating matters of workplace discrimination and harassment may provide guidance as to what avenues a victim of sexual harassment can pursue to bring such behavior to a halt.

Source:, “Sexual Harassment and OSHA: Is Sexual Harassment a ‘Recognized Hazard’?” by David Galt, Feb. 13, 2012


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