What constitutes sexual harassment under the law?


One of the most fundamental principles of this country is equal treatment under the law. While Cranston residents believe that individuals should be treated equally, unfortunately this does not always occur, such as when an employer discriminates against an employee for an unlawful reason.

Last week, this blog discussed how employees may have a valid workplace discrimination claim under many different scenarios. This is particularly true when it comes to sex discrimination, which can take several different forms.

Under federal and state law, employers are prohibited from discrimination on the basis of sex when it comes to any aspect of employment. Accordingly, while a termination from employment can certainly support a discrimination claim, so too can a demotion, job assignment, pay discrepancy or other term or condition of employment.

In addition, it is unlawful to harass a person because of the person's sex. Sexual harassment can take many different forms in and of itself, including unwelcome sexual advances, offensive sexual comments, requests for sexual factors or other verbal or physical harassment. Once again, both the victim and harasser can be of either sex, and the victim and harasser can be of the same sex. In addition, the harasser might not only be the victim's supervisor, but a supervisor in another area or a co-worker.

Ultimately, the bottom line is that a valid sex discrimination claim can arise in any different number of contexts. Individuals who feel they have been the victim of sex discrimination or sexual harassment should pursue their rights and hold their employer accountable for the unlawful conduct.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Sex-based discrimination," accessed on Oct. 28, 2016

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