No New York employee should ever have to deal with sexual harassment while at work. But, determining sexual harassment is not necessarily easy, and employees often refrain from speaking up to avoid confrontations or awkward interactions with peers and superiors in in the workplace. Nonetheless, how do I know if what you are experiencing is even sexual harassment?
According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, also known as the EEOC, sexual harassment is any unwanted advance of a sexual nature, or any conduct of a sexual nature that interferes with that person's job. It could also create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
The Civil Rights Act of 1964, Title VII, has recognized two forms of sexual harassment: "quid pro quo" and "hostile work environment." Quid pro quo involves a superior or person of authority who demands a subordinate to tolerate sexual harassment to keep a job or job benefit, such as a promotion or raise. Hostile work environment harassment involves any form of unwelcome sex-related harassment that creates an offensive or abusive working environment.
To determine which form of sexual harassment applies, the courts look at various factors including:
- Form of conduct (verbal, physical, both);
- Frequency of conduct;
- The content of the harassment (hostile or patently offensive);
- The status of the harasser (co-worker or superior);
- The environment during the harassment (whether others joined); and
- Whether the harassment was towards one person or a group.
If you believe you have been the victim of sexual harassment, it is important to report it immediately. If you are uncertain on how to proceed, it may be in your best interest to seek the guidance and representation from a law professional familiar with the sexual harassment lawsuits. No one should be a victim of harassment, but unless you stand up for yourself, your voice may never be heard.
Source: FindLaw.com, "Sexual Harassment at Work," accessed on March 24, 2015