issues first appeared in law in the 1970's, when women and their
lawyers began arguing that various kinds of sexual behavior resulted
in the exclusion of or discrimination against women. This was
illegal because it violated the U.S. Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Courts began to rule in agreement with this position in the late
In 1980 the
Equal Employment Opportunity Commission declared that sexual harassment
was illegal because it discriminated against women.
The EEOC also
defined what constituted sexual harassment. Sexual harassment
is any unwelcome sexual conduct that occurs in the workplace or
The legal, criminal
definition of sexual harassment includes unsolicited verbal, visual
or physical behavior such as:
* Offensive jokes
* Sexually suggestive gestures
* Hugging (or any other physical contact)
* Pressure (explicit or implied) for sexual relations
* The display of sexual images.
It also includes:
* Sexual assault
* Explicit violence in the form of rape.
unwelcome and unreciprocated deliberate or repeated verbal comments
of a sexual nature, including suggestive remarks and offensive
* Unsolicited and unreciprocated physical contact such as touching,
pinching, patting, hugging or brushing against someone.
* An unwelcome display of sexually offensive or erotic images.
* Unwelcome and unreciprocated sexual teasing, including jokes,
remarks or questions.
* Treating someone as a sex object, rather than an equal in society.
* Unsolicited, unwelcome and unreciprocated sexually suggestive
looks or gestures such as leering, ogling and staring.
* Ignoring a person's skill, experience or ability, focusing instead
on physical, gender-specific attributes. Sexual harassment is
It's equally important, however, to note exactly what sexual harassment
* Compliments provided the recipient has raised no objection.
* Solicited or reciprocated flirtation based on mutual attraction.
Harassment Legal Status
can be divided into two basic types, harassment that creates an
unpleasant environment, and 'quid pro quo' harassment. Quid pro
quo refers to the practice of offering employment or advancement
in exchange for sex or sexual favors.
that creates an unpleasant environment can include behavior such
as sexist jokes, repetitive requests for sex, inappropriate touching,
continued staring, the displaying of pornographic materials, or
anything else that can be proved to create a "hostile work
suits target the complainant's employer, so there are concerns
that the accuser will face retaliation for accusing her superiors.
For this reason, laws exist that protect the rights of an
Keep in mind, employers cannot fire or demote an employee
because of a sexual harassment lawsuit. If someone has harassed you it's very likely they have done this to someone else also. Speak out as this kind of behavior should not be tolerated.