Sexual Harassment

But maybe you will not recognize all forms of sexual harassment. It would be impossible to list all its potential forms. But some less known forms of “sexual harassment” include gender-role stereotyping, favoring consensual sexual partners over other employees (or job applicants), and retaliating against employees (or applicants) for complaining about perceived sexual harassment.

To paraphrase the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission: The bottom line is that it is unlawful to harass an employee (or applicant) because of that person’s gender. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, but may merely be offensive remarks about a person’s gender. For example, a woman (or man) may be “sexually harassed” merely by hearing excessive offensive comments about women (or men) in general. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.

Although the law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, the acts or omissions may quickly cross an invisible line and become illegal when they are either so frequent or severe that they create a hostile or offensive work environment or when they result in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or even someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client, vendor, or customer.

Additionally, employers may not discriminate against women on the basis of pregnancy, child birth, or related medical conditions. Women may not be retaliated against by employers for becoming pregnant or seeking reasonable accommodations for their pregnancy.