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What is sexual harassment? Definition of sexual harassment


Question: What is sexual harassment? Definition of sexual harassment
Answer: According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC):
It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include "sexual harassment" or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.
The EEOC includes under "sexual harassment" harassment of an individual that is not of a sexual nature but involves offensive and/or disparaging remarks about that individual’s gender. Thus, repeated and continuous put-downs of women in general would constitute sexual harassment. It does not matter what the gender is of the harasser and the victim. They can be members of the opposite sex or same sex. The EEOC stresses that offhand comments, isolated incidents that are not very serious and/or simple teasing do not amount to sexual harassment. Frequency and severity, however, are key factors in determining whether specific incidents qualify as sexual harrassment:
...[H]arassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted).
The work relationship between harasser and victim can be varied; in fact, an episode of sexual harassment can involve a subordinate harassing a higher-up. A harasser can be:
  • the victim's supervisor
  • a supervisor in another area
  • an agent of the employer
  • a co-worker
  • a client or customer
  • a non-employee
"Sexual Harassment." U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission. EEOC.gov. Retrieved 14 November 2011.

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