Workplace sexual harassment – An overview

On Behalf of | Apr 16, 2020 | Employment Law |

No one wants to feel uncomfortable at work. Unfortunately, the actions of other workers or superiors may cause people to feel unease. 

To help protect themselves from offensive behaviors or actions on the part of others in their workplaces, it may help employees to understand sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Defining sexual harassment 

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the term sexual harassment describes verbal or physical agitations of a sexual nature, requests for sexual favors and unwanted sexual advances. Additionally, sexual harassment may involve offensive comments made about a worker’s sex. 

Either men or women may commit sexual harassment in the workplace. Further, such inappropriate behavior may occur between workers of the same or opposite sexes. 

Reporting sexual harassment 

According to the New York State Office of the Attorney General, workers who experience such inappropriate behavior in the workplace should first make a complaint to the designated person or office at their workplaces. They may also choose to make a formal complaint with the New York State Office of the Attorney General Civil Rights Bureau, the New York State Division of Human Rights or the EEOC. In some cases, employees subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace may choose to take legal action against their employers. 

Protecting workers from retaliation 

In addition to safeguarding workers from subjection to sexual harassment in the workplace, the law also protects them from retaliation. As such, they may have a separate claim against their employers should their working conditions change unfavorably due to their reporting of the inappropriate behavior. For example, employers cannot demote, fire, reduce the pay, or place workers in dangerous or less desirable roles because they made a sexual harassment complaint.