When Does Sexual Harassment Violate A Person's Civil Rights?

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When does sexual harassment violate a person's civil rights?

Sexual harassment in the workplace can damage an victim's career, make them fear for their safety, and cause severe emotional distress. 

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes sex discrimination, of which sexual harassment is a form, illegal, if certain requirements are met (EEOC). 


  • The workplace must have at least 15 employees.
  • The victim doesn't have to be the individual who was harassed, they are, however, someone affected by the sexual harassment.
  • It applies to employers as well as local, state, and federal government, labor organizations, and employment agencies. 
  • Be unwelcome
  • Explicitly of implicitly affect the victim's employment
  • Unreasonably interferes with the victim's work performance
  • and/or
  • Creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment
A few examples of sexual harassment in the workplace:
  • Quid Pro Quo sexual favors
  • Unwelcome sexual advances or propositions
  • Sexual looks, gestures, jokes, stories, innuendos, or remarks
  • Unwelcome and inappropriate touching
  • Showing sexual suggestive or obscene content such as objects, photos, videos, or emails
  • Coercion of sexual conduct through threats 
  • Sexual assault
  • The victim can be either gender and the harasser can be either gender.
  • The harasser can be another employee or they can be a non-employee. 
  • The sexual harassment doesn't have to cause the victim economic damage.
What can a victim do?
  • If the victim feels their life is in danger they can contact the police.
  • If they feel that their work environment is hostile, they can file a complaint with their human resources department.
  • If they feel that their harasser possibly made a mistake, they can try explaining to them, (best to do it in writing), that their behavior (point out what behavior specifically) is unwelcome and that you request that they stop.
  • If they do not feel that their rights are being respected they can speak to an attorney to find out what the next best steps are for their particular case.
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