The term "sexual harassment" is defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as any unwanted sexual conduct or advances which unreasonably affect an individual's job performance or create an intimidating, offensive, or hostile working environment.
It can happen to both sexes, not just women. Even people who have a different sexual preference (gays or lesbians) can become victims of this illegal act. However, though men and women can be sexually harassed in the workplace, most of the charges related to it are filed by female employees who alleged that they were harassed by the opposite sex.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one of the laws which strictly prohibit sexual harassment. Here are the two kinds of sexual harassment, which are recognized by this law:
- Hostile work environment- It covers unwanted sexual conduct that is pervasive or severe enough to cause an offensive or abusive work environment. Different elements which are analyzed when determining if it occurred include the following:
o If the conduct was physical, verbal, or both
o If the unlawful action was directed at other employees, not just the claimant
- Quid pro quo - It happens when a supervisor, employer, or someone who is in authority requires a subordinate to tolerate unwanted sexual conduct or advances as one of the conditions of being employed, keeping the job, being promoted, or receiving benefits or a higher salary. Even if the unlawful act happened only once, it will be enough to win a case.
Title VII covers employers who have at least 15 employees. Meanwhile, those who have less than 15 workers may still be covered by state sexual harassment laws.
Employers should take necessary actions just to prevent sexual harassment because if they failed to do so, they may be held liable in the case even if they were not the ones who performed the illegal act.
Here are some of the ways on how they can protect their employees from sexual harassment:
- Investigate complaints- If one of your employees claimed that he was sexually harassed, you should not ignore his allegations even if you think that they are not true. You should conduct an investigation in order to determine if the unlawful act really occurred in the workplace. If it did, make sure that you will take appropriate actions against the wrongdoer.
- Monitor the workplace- Even if you are too busy running the company, you should still have enough time to talk to your employees and ask them if they have problems with the management or with their co-employees. In addition, you should ask your managers and supervisors to give you an update regarding the performance of their subordinates.
If you have more questions about the legal issues involved in sexual harassment cases, do not hesitate to call a Los Angeles labor attorney. Additional tips on how to protect employees from sexual harassment may be found in Effective Ways on How to Protect Employees from Sexual Harassment (Part 2).