Twenty-three years after the televised Anita-Hill Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings in which sexual harassment became a household word, sexual harassment is still widespread in the American workplace, causing a profound impact on men and women. Sexual harassment can manifest itself both physically and psychologically. In its milder forms it can involve verbal innuendo and inappropriate affectionate gestures. It can, however, escalate extreme behavior amounting to attempted rape and rape. Physically, the recipient may be the victim of pinching, grabbing, hugging, patting, leering, brushing against and touching. Psychological harassment can involve a relentless proposal for physical intimacy, beginning with subtle hints that may lead to overt requests for dates and sexual favors.
Sexual harassment ranges from derogatory comments to unwanted touching and sexual advances and threats to sexual assault, and rape. Harassment can have particularly negative consequences for all workers who cannot afford to have their livelihoods threatened.
Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that occurs in the workplace. Courts generally use the definition of sexual harassment contained in the guidelines of the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). This language has also formed the basis for most state laws prohibiting sexual harassment. The guidelines state:
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
(1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment,
(2) submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individuals, or
(3) such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment. (29 C.F.R. § 1604.11 )
Victims of sexual harassment may sue under Title VII of the Civil Rights act of 1964, as amended (42 U.S.C. section 2000 et seq) which prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace.
At Schleier Law Offices, we have handled hundreds of sexual harassment cases ranging from derogatory comments, unwelcome touching and sexual assaults by supervisors against subordinate employees. For the past 25 years we have worked with sexual harassment victims and trained and educated employers about sexual harassment. If you believe that you are a victim of sexual harassment, contact our office for a consultation.