Sexual harassment occurs when an employee is subjected to a hostile work environment so severe or pervasive that it alters the terms and conditions of the employment. Sexual harassment may be caused by a manager, a co-worker or even an outside person who comes into the workplace (e.g., a business client or investor). And a sexual harassment claim can be based on “same sex” harassment.
In determining whether or not a hostile work environment existed, the Judge/Jury must consider all of the circumstances, including: 1) frequency of the discriminatory conduct; 2) its severity; 3) whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and, 4) whether it unreasonably interferes with an employee’s work performance or creates an intimidating hostile or offensive work environment.
A company also may not retaliate against any employee for opposing sex/gender discrimination or participating in protected activities, including complaints or investigations of sex/gender discrimination. An employer has engaged in unlawful retaliation under Title VII if there is: (1) protected opposition to Title VII discrimination or participation in a Title VII proceeding; (2) adverse action by the employer subsequent to or contemporaneous with such protected activity; and, (3) a causal connection between such activity and the employer’s adverse action.