Sexual harassment can occur in a number of ways, such as:
- The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a client, a co-worker, a teacher or professor, a schoolmate, or a stranger.
- The victim does not have to be the person directly harassed but can be anyone who finds the behavior offensive and is affected by it.
- While adverse effects on the victim are common, this does not have to be the case for the behavior to be unlawful.
- The victim can be male or female. The harasser does not have to be of the opposite sex.
- The harasser’s behavior must be unwelcome.
- The harasser may be completely unaware that their behavior is offensive or constitutes sexual harassment, or they may be completely unaware that their actions could be unlawful.
Two specific legal definitions of sexual harassment have been defined:
- quid pro quo (Latin: something for something)
- hostile work environment
The concept of sexual harassment has both colloquial and legal meanings. Many more people have experienced sexual harassment than have a solid legal case against the accused. For many businesses, preventing sexual harassment, and defending its managerial employees from sexual harassment charges, have become key goals of legal decision-making.
Prima Facie Case for Sexual Harassment
To establish a prima facie case for sexual harassment, you must show that there were unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:
- Submission to such conduct was made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment
- Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual was used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual
- 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
Prima Facie for Sexual Harassment, Hostile Environment
To establish a prima facie case for hostile work environment sexual harassment, the alleged victim must prove:
- He or she suffered intentional discrimination because of his/her sex.
- The discrimination was pervasive and regular.
- The discrimination detrimentally affected him or her.
- The discrimination would detrimentally affect a reasonable person of the same sex.
- Management knew about the harassment, or should have known, and did nothing to stop it.
Prima Facie for Retaliation
To establish a prima facie case of retaliation, a person must show by a preponderance of evidence that
- The person engaged in a protected activity known to the employer.
- The employer thereafter subjected the complaining party to an adverse decision.
- There was a causal link between the protected activity and adverse employment decision.
Protected activities usually encompass making discrimination and harassment activities known to management, participating in Managing Diversity programs, assisting another employee with a discrimination complaint and other similar activities.
Employment Law | Wages | Equal Opportunity | Harassment | Hiring & Firing