Overview of workplace sexual harassment

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects men and women from sexual harassment at work. The act enables Indiana workers to challenge unwelcome sexual advances, supervisors asking for sex, sexual touches, verbal harassment or sexually offensive remarks. Although the occasional lewd joke or teasing statement will not meet the definition of sexual harassment, a workplace where the behavior is pervasive or a specific employee endures continual mistreatment could be in violation of the law.

Illegality emerges when the targeted employee does not welcome the sexual comments or physical attention and feels abused by the behavior. Ongoing misconduct inspired by the person's sex could translate into labeling the entire workplace hostile. A court might deem a workplace hostile if a "reasonable person" would consider the place uncomfortable and unpleasant.

To determine the severity of a sexual harassment claim, workplace investigators or a court might consider whether the conduct threatened or humiliated the victim and how often that it happened. Additionally, the psychological effect of the mistreatment on the employee matters, especially if it impeded the performance of work duties. A harasser who holds a position superior to the victim influences the outcome. Superiors can inflict a form of harassment known as quid pro quo in which the supervisor demands sexual favors in exchange for preferential treatment. The second form of sexual harassment involves abusive behavior from any source at the organization, including co-workers and customers, leading to a hostile working environment.

A person suffering from mistreatment at work could ask an attorney how to respond to the sex discrimination. An attorney could organize evidence about lewd comments or retaliation for complaints to build a sexual harassment claim and file it with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

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