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Sexual Harassment: Do I Have A Claim?

Updated: Dec 2, 2020

Oftentimes individuals are not sure whether inappropriate workplace behavior rises to the level of sexual harassment. The best way to determine if you have a claim against your employer for sexual harassment is to speak with an experienced employment attorney. The following post describes different types of sexual harassment recognized by the courts.


What is Sexual Harassment?


“Sexual harassment” is not defined explicitly in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, but it is recognized by the courts as a form of gender discrimination. The definition of sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors or any conduct of a sexual nature when:


(a) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment,


(b) submission to or rejection of this conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting the individual, or


(c) the conduct has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.


Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment


There are two types of sexual harassment the courts recognize. The first is called “quid pro quo harassment” and involves submission to sexual advances, requests, or sexual favors as a term or condition of an individual’s employment.


Hostile Work Environment


The second type of sexual harassment recognized by the courts is “hostile environment.” Actionable harassment is that which is sufficiently severe or pervasive to alter the conditions of the victim’s employment and create an abusive working environment.


Whether conduct is severe or pervasive enough to constitute a hostile environment depends on the frequency of the conduct, its severity, whether it is physically threatening or humiliating or a mere offensive utterance, and whether it unreasonably interferes with one’s work performance. The Supreme Court has held that objective psychological harm, although a factor of a hostile work environment, is not a necessary for recovery. A nervous breakdown is not required to state a sexual harassment claim.


An employer can be held liable when a supervisor within the company creates a hostile work environment by making explicit threats to alter a subordinate’s terms or conditions of employment, even when the threats are not fulfilled.


Contact Davis & Gras, LLC

If you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace contact our experienced attorneys at 314-888-5858.

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