What Is Sexual Harassment?
According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment is:
“Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment."
Sexual harassment in the workplace is part of the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and a violation of this act can mean, as an employer, you must implement policies, investigate the accusation fully and come to a determination on what should be done to deal with both the accuser and victim.
When looking at the EEOC’s description of sexual harassment as an employer, probably the word you should keep in mind most is “unwelcome." Harassment doesn’t have to occur between a man and a woman. It also happens in same sex to same sex situations. Sexual harassment can come from a co-worker, supervisor, company owner or officer and even non-employees such as customers or vendors. In essence, this law is in place to protect your employees but also keeps your business safe from employee lawsuits in the event you do nothing if someone reports they have been, or feel they have been, harassed.
Lastly, when defining sexual harassment in the workplace, look at it with an open eye. If an employee keeps male or female suggestive calendars or posters in their workspace, this is also a form of sexual harassment so these must be forbidden.
To help you better understand sexual harassment, read Manager Tips on Sexual Harassment, right here on Bright Hub.