Sexual harassment is the most common type of workplace harassment, with recent studies showing more than 50% of employees reporting experiencing this form of harassment at work. Employers must strive to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace, and avoid the negative effects on productivity, morale, and culture.
The definition of sexual harassment, per The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is as follows:
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when such conduct:
- explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment
- unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance
- creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment
Education is a key first step in avoiding sexual harassment in the workplace, on all levels of your organization, with additional training for Management staff on properly handling reported cases. The final step is setting up a process for when sexual harassment occurs: handling complaints, investigations, and corrective measures.
Who Needs to Comply with Sexual Harassment Training?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits workplace harassment, including sexual harassment, and prohibits employers with 15 or more employees from discriminating on the basis of race, color, sex, religion, or national origin. The law applies to federal, state, and local employers and governs all employment actions. Laws regarding workplace harassment are enforced by the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
In addition, three states (California, Connecticut, and Maine) have their own state laws specifically addressing sexual harassment:
California - AB 1825 and AB 2053
Connecticut - Connecticut Human Rights and Opportunity Act
Maine - Maine Employment Laws Revised Statute, Title 26, Section 807