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What Qualifies as Sexual Harassment?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes it illegal to discriminate against anyone on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, or sex. Discrimination based on sex also includes claims for sexual harassment. If you feel like you’ve been a victim of discrimination or sexual harassment in the workplace, an experienced sexual harassment lawyer will be able to provide counsel.

There are two types of sexual harassment:

  1. Quid pro quo harassment.
  2. Hostile workplace.

Quid pro quo is a term derived from Latin meaning “what for what” – in other words the employer is asking for something inappropriate in exchange for some employment benefit. Hostile workplace is harassing conduct that unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance.

In order to hold an employer liable under a quid pro quo theory of sexual harassment, you must establish:

  1. That you were subjected to unwelcome sexual harassment in the form of sexual advances or requests for sexual favors;
  2. That the harassment complained of was based on sex;
  3. That your submission to the unwelcome advances was an express or implied condition for receiving job benefits or that your refusal to submit to the supervisor’s demands resulted in a tangible job detriment;
  4. And the existence of liability between employer and supervisor.

In order to hold an employer liable under a hostile workplace theory of sexual harassment, sexual harassment lawyers know that the court will consider the frequency of the discriminatory conduct, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or humiliating or a mere offensive utterance, and whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance. Simple teasing, offhand comments, and isolated incidents (unless extremely serious) will not amount to discriminatory changes in the terms and conditions of employment.

In order to change the terms and conditions of employment, the discriminatory conduct must be extreme. The conduct involves an objective component that asks whether a reasonable person would find the environment hostile and abusive, as well as a subjective component that asks whether the individual employee viewed that environment as abusive. An experienced sexual harassment lawyer will take both into account.

In addition to establishing that a hostile work environment existed, you must also demonstrate that the employer knew or should have known about the harassment and failed to take remedial action. An experienced sexual harassment attorney will be able to help you make your case.

If you believe you have endured sexual harassment at work, you should contact an attorney immediately as the time for filing a claim has strict deadlines under the law. Contact the Lawyers of Brown & Roberto today to schedule a free consultation. Give us a call at (865) 691-2777 or contact us through our website Brown & Roberto, PLLC to set up a free consultation.

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