Despite increased attention and action against sexual harassment in recent years, it remains a serious problem in many workplaces. Many observers see systemic sexual harassment as a form of control, an attempt by management to prevent women from advancing to workplace equality.
Perhaps for this reason, the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 explicitly defines sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination. Resisting inappropriate jokes, requests for sexual favors and other forms of harassment can lead to victims getting lesser job assignments, being denied promotions and even being outright fired.
There are actually two types of sexual harassment, each of which can be a distinct claim in court. One is known as “quid pro quo” harassment. This type of sexual harassment involves a supervisor or other authority figure at work requesting sex or a sexual relationship in exchange for something. The harasser may offer benefits, like a raise or promotion, or threaten the victim with termination or other punishment.
The other type of sexual harassment claim is one alleging a hostile work environment. Being forced to witness demeaning or sexual jokes, threats or visual material can make your job untenable. Generally, to prevail on a hostile work environment claim, the plaintiff must show that the harassment was so pervasive that it creates an intimidating and offensive work environment.
Whatever the form sexual harassment takes, victims of either gender should not allow it to cause them distress or ruin their career. A discussion with an attorney experienced in sexual harassment law can help victims understand their options.