What is Sexual Harassment on the Job?

Sexual harassment on the job can range from blatant physical and verbal aggression to gentle patting and subtle coercion by persons seeking sexual favors. Individuals on any job can be victims of such unwanted sexual attention.

Examples of Sexual Harassment

  • A woman employee accepted a lunch invitation from her male supervisor to discuss a possible job promotion. At lunch he made it clear a sexual relationship with him was a necessary part of the new job. When she attempted to leave, the supervisor threatened to punish her and later she was demoted and received unfavorable job evaluations.
  • A male assembly line supervisor "welcomed" a new woman worker by making sexually suggestive comments to her and touching her in sexually aggressive ways. She complained to her foreman who told her to consider the supervisor’s action as a compliment. After repeated complaints, she told was she would lose her job if she continued to complain.
  • A female state employee complained that her supervisor threatened to deny her a promotion if she didn’t give him sexual favors. Testimony given during an internal departmental investigation revealed that more than a dozen other women were victims of similar threats from the same supervisor.

Is there a lot of Sexual Harassment?

Like rape, most sexual harassment goes unreported because the victims are somehow made to feel ashamed of what has happened to them. They are afraid that other people will say “they asked for it” or that no one will believe them or they wont be able to prove it and will be branded as “trouble-makers”. Rather than face embarrassment and retaliation, many victims who are lucky enough to transfer or get a new job elsewhere, quietly leave without saying anything. This leaves the harasser free to victimize others.

Is Sexual Harassment on the job unlawful?

Yes, Federal and state laws prohibit sexual harassment in the workplace. However, victims of sexual harassment outside places of employment may not have the same protection.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Ohio Civil Rights Commission have jurisdiction over these employment matters which include some of the strongest provisions in the nation. These provisions make it unlawful practice of an employer:

  • to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual, or otherwise to discriminate against any individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment, because of such individual’s sex;
  • to limit, segregate or classify employees in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive any individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect one’s status as an employee, because of such individual’s sex.

Title VII of the 1964 Federal Civil Rights Act contains similar provisions.

Court cases challenging sexual harassment are relatively new and have not been decided uniformly. Court opinions in this relatively new area of the law may vary.

State and other laws prohibit retaliation against individuals who file complaints.

Victims don’t have to fight sexual harassment by themselves. This office working through the EEOC and/or Ohio Civil Rights Commission and other organization can help.

What should you do about sexual harassment on the job?

Individuals should not ignore harassment or blame themselves, even though this is a normal reaction. Nor should they think harassment is a joke or an accident since experience shows that the harassment will continue or increase if it is ignored. Instead, a person should immediately seek assistance in preventing any further conduct by the offender to indicate that the behavior or remark is not acceptable.

  • Say no to the offender. Make it clear that you do not approve of his or her actions. Any evidence that you went along could lessen your chance of success in a formal complaint procedure. – Keep a diary of what took place.
  • Tell them any repetition will be reported to their boss. When the unacceptable behavior happens again, speak with their boss and or other appropriate employer-employee representatives-such as an equal employment opportunity officer, affirmative action officer, union shop steward or other union officials or this office. Write a follow-up memo to the person with whom you spoke and keep a copy for yourself so you will have a written record of the conversation.
  • If the harassment continues to occur, keep a log with dates and times of the remarks and behavior that you consider offensive. Keep a record or any memo or complaints; if you decide to bring charges, these items will aid in accurate testimony. Whenever possible, try to get other people-both men and women-as witnesses to your harassment. Other persons could be victims as well and can help in taking join action against your harasser.
  • Seek early advice from our office. Know your rights so you can best protect them. Learn about the limits imposed by some courts and what actions would be considered unlawful retaliations by your employer and harasser.

Where can you go for help?

Sexual discrimination is one form of employment of discrimination that the offices of F. Harrison Green Co., L.P.A. deal with frequently. Our staff provides complete assistance to individuals with sex harassment and sex discrimination complaints based on sex, or gender. This service includes counseling individuals, filing formal complaints, conciliation efforts and hearings and court actions if necessary to stop discrimination.

This site cannot answer all questions about sexual harassment, but the our staff will gladly provide individuals more detailed information and interpretation of the law as it relates to sexual harassment.