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What is sexual harassment?

While Indiana residents may have an idea of what sexual harassment is, they may not know what is prohibited in the workplace. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 states that there are two different types of sexual harassment. The first type is quid pro quo harassment while the other form of harassment occurs when it creates a hostile working environment.

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an employer, supervisor or manager demands that a worker submit to sexual harassment in exchange for preferential treatment. For example, a manager may demand that a subordinate provide sexual favors in exchange for a raise or job promotion. In general, harassment is defined as quid pro quo harassment if it occurs once or twice. If a pattern of harassment emerges, it is usually considered harassment due to a hostile working environment.

When a judge determines if a worker was subjected to sexual harassment, there are two questions that will be considered. First, did the person in question sincerely believe that physical or verbal abuse was meant to harass and intimidate and was meant to be offensive? Secondly, would any reasonable person in that same position believe that actions taken toward an employee would have constituted harassment?

An employee who is presented with a hostile work environment as a result of prohibited harassment may have remedies. An employment law attorney may be able to establish that colleagues or supervisors took actions that constituted harassment or did not stop others from doing the same. There are procedural steps involved in maintaining an action against the employer that the attorney will explain.

Source: Findlaw, "Sexual Harassment at Work", November 18, 2014

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