From LawGuru Sexual Harassment Law FAQs                                                 31




Sexual harassment at work occurs whenever unwelcome conduct on the basis of gender affects a person’s job. It is defined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when:


·        submission to such conduct is made explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment, or


·        submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as a basis for employment decisions affecting such individual, or


·        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.”


Sexual harassment is prohibited in the federal workplace and is recognized in the law as a type of sex discrimination proscribed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.


Under the law, there are two basic kinds of sexual harassment:


·        “Quid Pro Quo” - The earliest court cases involved “quid pro quo” harassment. Quid pro quo means “this for that” - in other words, the expectation that the employee will accept harassment as a condition of keeping his or her job, or remaining eligible for a benefit such as a raise or promotion. A supervisor or someone in authority over the victim makes a “put out or get out” demand - “submit to my sexual requests or you will be fired, intimidated…“ It is committed by someone in the organizational structure who has the power to control the victim’s job destiny.


·        “Hostile Environment” - The most common form of sexual harassment. It occurs when a supervisor, co-worker, or someone else with whom the victim comes in contact on the job creates an abusive work environment or interferes with the employee’s work performance through words or deeds that are sexual in nature. It does not have to be linked to continued employment or career advancement.