Unfortunately, not every workplace in Kentucky is free of sexual harassment. Despite the strides that have been made, sexual harassment is still a problem in many workplaces and can be a headache for a company’s HR department. Victims of sexual harassment often let it continue for fear of losing their job, a well-deserved promotion, or other accolades. But, sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal and employees are protected by the law against this behavior.
State and federal laws protect employees from sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Under Title VII there are two forms of sexual harassment.
Quid pro quo
Under a quid pro quo form of harassment, a person in authority demands that their employee put up with the sexual harassment in order to keep their job, get a promotion, a job benefit, or a raise. The sexual harassment does not need to be an ongoing event, a single instance can suffice to qualify for a hostile work environment.
Hostile work environment
A hostile work environment claim can be grounds for legal action when the conduct an employee is subjected to is unwelcome, based on sex, and severe enough to cause an abusive work environment. The elements that courts analyze to determine if it is a hostile work environment include:
- Frequency of conduct
- Whether conduct was verbal or physical or both
- If the harasser was a supervisor or fellow employee
- Whether others were involved in the harassment
- If others were subjected to the harassment or just one person
Companies who have 15 or more employees are subject to Title VII laws. If a person believes they are the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace they should consult with an employment lawyer who can help them review their legal options.