A Look at the Legal Definition of Sexual Harassment

A Look at the Legal Definition of Sexual Harassment

No matter the situation, sexual harassment is a heinous act that can impart everlasting trauma on the victim, not just from the act itself but the lack of justice. Many cases don’t make it to court because many think, “Will my case pass for sexual harassment in a court of law?”

While not every case may legally count as sexual harassment, you should always report situations that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe. However, let’s take a closer look at the legal definition of sexual harassment for clarification.

What Is the Legal Definition of Sexual Harassment?

The legal definition of sexual harassment extends beyond mere inappropriate behavior, encompassing a range of actions that can significantly impact an employee’s mental health and sense of safety.

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when someone with actual or perceived authority ties a job benefit, such as a promotion or raise, to the acceptance of sexual advances or conduct. Hostile work environment harassment involves unwanted sexual conduct that is so severe or pervasive that it produces an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

What Behavior Might Constitute Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment can manifest in many forms, including, but not limited to, unwanted sexual comments, jokes, gestures, or use of sexually explicit materials. It also includes actions like touching or blocking someone’s movement, and visual harassment, such as displaying inappropriate images or sending suggestive messages via email.

It’s crucial to understand that the perception of the behavior—whether unwelcome or offensive—plays a key role in categorizing actions as harassment. However, this perception does not necessarily mean that you fully consented if you were forced or pressured to comply.

What Are the Different Types of Sexual Harassment?

We can categorize sexual harassment into three main types: verbal, non-verbal, and physical. Verbal sexual harassment includes comments about someone’s body, sexual propositions, or sexually suggestive jokes that make the workplace uncomfortable for the victim. Non-verbal harassment might involve inappropriate gestures, leering, or displaying offensive pictures or messages. Physical harassment includes any unwanted touching, physical interference with normal work, or any physical intimidation or assault. However, one can also consider unwanted sexual touching to be sexual assault.

Looking at the legal definition of sexual harassment in these plain terms helps build an awareness, in and outside of work, that protects everyone and arms the public with the right knowledge. Contact the law firm of Tamara N Holder today if you’ve experienced sexual assault and need any form of legal advice on how to receive justice. We have a fighting force of respectful, informed, and knowledgeable sexual harassment attorneys dedicated to upholding and protecting your rights.

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