To prevent sexual harassment lawsuits, employers should be aware of the following facts:
FACT No. 1 - It is unlawful to harass a person (a job applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
FACT No. 2 – Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature. However, it can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is unlawful to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general.
FACT No. 3- Both the victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
FACT No. 4 – Although the law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is unlawful when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision for the victim such as being fired or demoted.
FACT No. 5 – The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another department, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.
For more information on sexual harassment prevention and related questions, contact Ancel Glink’s labor and employment team. Ancel Glink has extensive experience in defending employers in Title VII sexual harassment litigation as well as conducting internal investigations of employee complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace.
This article was authored by Darcy L. Proctor, one of Ancel Glink’s employment litigation attorneys.