Harassment in the workplace motivated because of race, sex, age, disability, religion, pregnancy, color, and national origin. Termination of employment is not a requirement to bring an action for workplace harassment. Employers can be held liable for failing to maintain policies that prohibit unlawful harassment and should provide employees a method for reporting unlawful harassment. Employers have legal obligations to investigate complaints of unlawful harassment and discipline employees who commit unlawful harassment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is a specific type of illegal sex discrimination. Women are most frequently the victims of sexual harassment, but men can also be sexually harassed. Unlawful sexual harassment includes unwanted sexual advances, physical contact, demands for sexual favors, lewd jokes, and pornography in the workplace. Sexual harassment may take other forms as well, but the key inquiry in all types of sexual harassment complaints is whether the conduct is unwelcome and based on sex.
While sexual harassment is illegal, the workplace is not required to be free from inappropriate jokes or occasional sexual innuendo. Whether bad behavior rises to the level of sexual harassment is determined by the frequency and severity of the misconduct. The line is crossed if the work environment becomes so permeated with sexual references or conduct or the harassment is so severe that it interferes with work performance or alters the terms and conditions of employment.
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