Steps to Take if Experiencing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace


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In 2017, the #Metoo movement swept through the U.S. bringing a fresh focus on sexual harassment in workplaces, but protections were in place before that. In the late 1980’s, the Supreme Court interpreted Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to include discrimination based on “sex” as sexual harassment in the workplace. The law recognizing sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, as well as government and labor organizations.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of ways, according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):

  • The victim, as well as the harasser, may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex from the harasser.
  • The harasser may be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker or a nonemployee, such as a vendor or customer.
  • The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
  • The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
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