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Sexual Harassment & Sex Discrimination

Sexual harassment and sex discrimination are illegal under both state and federal law. Every case is different and some are hard to prove.

Every workplace is susceptible to this problem. Employers have a legal responsibility to educate their employees about policies implemented to address harassment in the workplace. Employees themselves must be aware that sexual advances, favors, and other forms of sexual harassment are unwelcome and will be reported.

What Is the Legal Definition of Harassment?

Sexual harassment commonly involves male perpetrators and female victims, but under the law the sex of the involved parties does not matter. It can come not only from a boss or supervisor, but from company policy, co-workers, subordinates, or even clients or customers.

Sex discrimination can occur in any aspect of employment, including: hiring, firing, promotion, wages, and benefits.

There are two types of legal violations involving harassment and discrimination of a sexual nature: quid pro quo and hostile workplace.

Our sexual abuse team can handle sexual abuse, rape, sexual assault, sexual battery, workplace sexual harassment, and sexual harassment in a non-workplace environment matters. 

Types of Violations

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

When an employer makes sexual acts or favors a condition of employment, pay increases, promotions, or other benefits, courts refer to this as “quid pro quo” sexual harassment. Whether or not the employee accepts or rejects these demands, if the demands are unwanted then they are illegal.

Any retaliation that occurs as a consequence of the employee rejecting these advances is also illegal.

Hostile Workplace

Separately, some forms of sexual harassment become illegal because they create a hostile work environment. This occurs when behavior and conduct of a sexual nature is so severe and pervasive that an employee is prevented from performing their job.

Hostile work environment cases are not limited to direct victims of this harassment in the workplace. They may also involve third-party witnesses to the the harassment, for whom the harassment is so severe that it prevents them from effectively doing their job even though they are not directly involved.