Sexual harassment is a newly defined sex offense that gives the victim the right to sue for monetary damages or other forms of relief such as job reinstatement or back pay. As more women have entered the workforce, college, the military, and other institutions, the incidence of unwanted sexual attention from men in authority has increased.
One-third to one-half of workingwomen have reported some kind of sexual harassment on the job. Now that people have become more aware of this behavior, we have begun to consider how women may sexually harass men, although this is less common.
Sexual harassment is considered a form of sex discrimination under the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because the victim is being singled out for different treatment based on his or her gender. Sexual harassment typically occurs in two forms. The first form of sexual harassment is called quid pro quo harassment. This occurs when an employee is told she or he will gain or lose a job or benefits depending on whether sexual favors are granted or refused.
The second form of sexual harassment is called hostile work environment. This occurs in the workplace when the members of one gender are subjected to some form of conduct that is so "pervasive and severe" that it makes it substantially more difficult for a member of the targeted gender to do her or his job. If the perpetrator is proved liable, the company can also be liable if it did nothing to stop a reported harassment.
The 1972 Educational Amendment law gives some protection against sexual harassment to students, but it does not allow a student to sue. Schools, colleges, and universities continue to develop their own policies on sexual harassment. Charges that could not be heard in court are sometimes treated by special committees appointed by university administrators. Some college professors who teach human sexuality courses and use explicit sexual materials or include frank discussions in their classrooms have faced charges of "harassment" from students who feel uncomfortable.
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