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Understanding sexual harassment

It is not unusual for women in California and the rest of the nation to be sexually harassed in the workplace. According to a survey that was conducted in 2015, 1 in 3 women reported being a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace at least once.

Sexual harassment is just one type of sex discrimination. Individuals who engage in the behavior are in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The legislation outlaws on-the-job discriminatory behavior against individuals based on their race, religion, sex, national origin or color.

The United States Department of Labor identifies two types of sexual harassment. Quid pro quo refers to basing an employment decision, such as whether to approve a promotion, on whether an individual yields to sexual harassment. A hostile work environment occurs when sexually harassing behavior results in a place of work that is offensive, antagonistic or threatening.

Some forms of harassment may include asking for sexual favors, engaging in speech or physical behavior that have a sexual nature, making unwanted sexual advances and speaking insultingly about an individual's sex. The harassment is considered illegal when the behavior is not welcomed or is exhibited due to the protected status of the victim. The harassment is also against the law when it is conducted to such a degree that it causes a hostile workplace for the victim or is uniquely harmful to the person.

Victims of sexual harassment in the workplace may have legal recourse. An attorney who practices employment law may file a lawsuit against an employer who allowed the harassing behavior, such as offensive sexual comments, to occur. Companies may be held liable if a client was terminated, demoted or in some other way retaliated against for reporting sexual harassment.

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