Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. It includes conduct such as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or verbal or physical harassment that is sexual in nature. Sometimes even behaviors which are not overtly sexual in nature can constitute sexual harassment. Both men and women are protected from sexual harassment and employees may even be sexually harassed by a member of their own sex. Sexual harassment can come in the form of a demand for sex by a supervisor or manager, or it can result from “severe or pervasive” conduct by co-workers. Harassing conduct can include demands for sex, discussion about sex or sexually suggestive comments directed at you, and/or the display of sexual graffiti, including pornographic images in electronic mail or on screen savers.
If the conduct is severe enough, even one instance or event may constitute sexual harassment. More commonly, this illegal conduct occurs over time when the employer has been made aware of the offensive conduct but takes no action or ineffective action to stop the harassment from taking place.
If you believe that you are experiencing sexual harassment, you should report the conduct to a manager or human resources representative of your employer. Employees who do not report the offensive conduct so that the employer has the opportunity to take effective action may lose their legal right to complain of the harassment. To protect your rights and learn how to stop sexual harassment from occurring at your workplace, please contact Willig, Williams & Davidson employment attorneys who have expertise in this area of the law.