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What qualifies for workplace sexual harassment?


With sexual harassment laws in place across the country and employers and workers becoming more attuned to everyone's workplace rights, acts of sexual harassment should be a thing of the past. Unfortunately, some companies do not adhere to the law. If you are a worker in New York, then you should know the basics of sexual harassment: its definition, what qualifies as harassment and what steps to undertake to deal with it better in case you become a victim.

What is sexual harassment? It is a type of sexual discrimination that not only violates labor laws but also a person's civil rights. What qualifies as sexual harassment? Sexual advances, demands for sexual favors and sexually degrading or intimidating comments all qualify as harassment. Bringing sexually explicit materials into the workplace that make workers uncomfortable also qualifies for harassment. Such acts can create a hostile working environment and affect the performance of workers.

Does sexual harassment involve people of opposite sexes? No, harassment is not limited to people of the opposite sex or just men against women. Males can feel harassed by females and other males, and females can be harassed by males and other females.

How can I keep from being harassed? A victim can go to an immediate superior or the human resources department to report the harassment. If it persists, then filing a sexual harassment complaint with the guidance of a legal professional may be necessary. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which governs such cases, will then look into the matter.

Will I lose my job if I file a complaint? Employers, whether in New York or in any other state, is prohibited from dismissing a worker who has a pending complaint. Employers are also not allowed to retaliate against an employee during and after a case.

Source: eeoc.gov, "Facts about sexual harassment," accessed on Aug. 19, 2014

Source: eeoc.gov, "Facts about sexual harassment," accessed on Aug. 19, 2014

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