As an employee, it is important to feel supported at work. Not only do employees deserve to be adequately compensated and have the resources to succeed, but they also deserve to know that their employers are in compliance with all relevant state and federal laws.
Employees likely know that they are protected against on-the-job sexual harassment. However, that legal protection comes from a potentially surprising place. Federal employment law doesn’t explicitly mention sexual harassment; rather, it is covered by workplace discrimination statutes.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one of the most critical protections against afforded to workers by the federal government. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment qualifies as sex discrimination, which is covered by the landmark federal law. Unwanted physical and verbal interactions of a sexual nature can directly interfere with a person’s employment and overall work environment.
According to the EEOC, sexual harassment protections aren’t limited to an employee’s sex. For example, incidents can involve two employees of the same sex. Furthermore, sexual harassment can be perpetrated by anyone in a particular work environment, regardless of whether or not they are in a position of authority.
Although it’s important to understand how and when the law applies to and protects employees from sexual harassment, the reality is that this area of law can be incredibly complicated. As such, this post shouldn’t be considered specific legal advice. For those who believe they have been subjected to on-the-job sexual harassment, it may be helpful to contact an experienced employment law attorney.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Facts About Sexual Harassment,” accessed April 18, 2014