Maryland Workplace Sexual Harassment Attorney
Sexual Harassment In The Workplace
Sexual harassment is a special kind of workplace discrimination. Rooted in gender discrimination, the courts have, over time, broadened the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to protect against inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.
Sexual harassment is defined by the Federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission as:
“unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature . . . 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.”
There are two main categories of sexual harassment. The first, known as “quid pro quo” harassment, occurs when an employment decision is directly attached to a sexual demand. The most obvious example would be a boss offering an employee a promotion or job contingent upon the employee sleeping with the boss. “Quid pro quo” harassment also comes in less blatant and explicit forms. Any professional advancement, benefit or advantage that comes either in exchange for, or in expectation of a sexual favor is illegal.
Sexual harassment is not restricted to a male superior harassing a female employee. Members of either gender can be the perpetrator or the victim of sexual harassment. A female supervisor can sexually harass a male employee or a female employee, and vice-versa.
The second main category of sexual harassment is one involving a hostile work environment. Specific demands and offers are not required in order to establish hostile work environment sexual harassment. Inappropriate comments, music, or posters, even if they are intended to be jokes, can rise to the level of sexual harassment if the conduct is sufficiently severe and pervasive. For a hostile environment to be considered a form of sexual harassment, it must be hostile not only to the individual offended, but also to a reasonable person.
Contact our Maryland Employment Attorneys
If you are working in a sexually hostile environment, or if sexual advances and requests are in any way a part of your company hiring or advancement paths, then you might benefit from a consultation with a sexual harassment attorney at Zipin, Amster & Greenberg.