What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

The issue of sexual harassment continues to be a serious one, both in Oklahoma and around the country. While sometimes seen as harmless teasing by certain people, sexual harassment is a real problem, and there can be serious consequences for employers that do not take allegations of it seriously. If you hate or fear going to your job because of comments or other words or actions on the part of your employer or colleagues, you may have a case for sexual harassment.

So, how do you know if your situation meets the legal requirements for a sexual harassment claim? Some people think that sexual harassment only includes advances made by your boss with threats of termination if you do not accept such advances. However, while that certainly may be considered sexual harassment, the definition is actually quite a bit wider. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, any harassment done on the basis of a person's sex can be actionable. That is, the harassment does not have to be sexual in nature, just based on the gender of the individual. For example disparaging comments made about generalities of one gender may be considered offensive to a person of that gender. Further both the harasser and the victim can be of either sex, including both being the same gender.

The important thing in sexual harassment cases is the creation of a hostile working environment. While isolated teasing may not rise to an actionable level, comments, including sexual innuendo or "joking," that happen so frequently, or are of such a nature as to make working in the environment extremely unpleasant and/or frightening, may be considered harassment. The position of the harasser is not necessarily relevant, as the hostile work environment can be created by a boss, or co-worker, or even a client or customer, although persons with power over one's job or wages tend to create such an environment more quickly.

Remember, you have a right to a workplace where you can do your job free of harassment. If you want some more information regarding the legalities of sexual harassment in Oklahoma, please consider visiting our firm's webpage.