Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

In November of 1976, Redbook, one of America’s women’s service magazines, conducted a survey on sexual harassment in the workplace. About 9,000 women responded to the survey through which almost nine out of every ten of them claimed that they had experienced being targets of sexual harassment in the places where they worked.

This survey was conducted during that same year when the first on-the-job sexual harassment case was tried and twelve years after the US Congress passed the Civil Rights Act and formed the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which makes unlawful any form of discrimination against employees based on national origin, religion, color, race, or sex, includes sexual harassment as one of the ways through which sexual discrimination is committed. EEOC, on the other hand, is like a federal government law enforcement agency due to its task of strictly implementing the Civil Rights Act and all other laws aimed at protecting employee rights.

Base on EEOC’s definition, sexual harassment is any form of act typified by verbal or physical harassment that is sexual in nature, unwelcome sexual advances, insulting remarks regarding a person’s sex, or requests for sexual favors; though victims are most often female, it can happen to male employees too and its perpetrator can be a supervisor, a co-worker or even a client.

There are two different ways through which sexual harassment may be committed: through the Hostile Work environment and through the Quid Pro Quo. In a hostile working environment, a superior or a co-worker acts the perpetrator; he/she makes the workplace offensive, intimidating or hostile to the victim for reasons that do not meet (the perpetrator’s) preference. The Quid Pro Quo, on the other hand, involves a person in authority, usually a direct supervisor, who would require sexual favors from the individual in return for being hired or promoted; refusal of the person to agree with the superior’s request would result to being denied employment, non-promotion or denial of job benefits the person is supposed to enjoy.

While a few number of those who are sexually harassed choose to muster their courage and file complaints even if this means compromising both their reputation and job, many more rather decide to keep silent as they see very little or no benefit at all in pursuing their case. To exact heavier punishment on sexual harassers in the workplace, amendments were made in the Civil Rights Act in 1991, this time to allow victims to receive compensatory damages, which includes emotional pain and suffering, mental anguish, and present and future financial losses.

In its website, the law firm Cary Kane LLP encourages victims of sexual harassment to come into the open and trust that they have the law as their ally. The firm also encourages victims to immediately get in touch with a lawyer, whose expertise in sexual harassment lawsuits is extensive, for the strong argument and defense that they definitely need.

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