Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: What you Need to Know - and What You Can Do

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: What you Need to Know - and What You Can Do

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by Mary Boland
What You Need to Know-and What You Can Do

You can stop sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is not about sex-it is about power. Immediate help is available to put you back in control. You do not have to give in and you do not have to give up your job. You can stand up to harassing coworkers and supervisors, and you do not have to go to court to do it.

There are


What You Need to Know-and What You Can Do

You can stop sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is not about sex-it is about power. Immediate help is available to put you back in control. You do not have to give in and you do not have to give up your job. You can stand up to harassing coworkers and supervisors, and you do not have to go to court to do it.

There are many ways to get the harassment to stop. Sexual Harassment in the Workplace explains your options and how to take action.

This book teaches you:
- Why sexual harassment occurs
- How Title VII can protect you
- What the EEOC and FEPA do and how to contact them
- What steps your employer must take
- Who you can turn to for help
- How to prevent future harassment
- How to find and work with a lawyer
- How to file a complaint

Sexual harassment is never acceptable. Do not tolerate it any longer.

Product Details

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New Edition
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6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.86(d)

Read an Excerpt

Different Kinds of Sexual Harassment to Be Aware Of

Excerpted from Sexual Harassment in the Workplace by Mary L. Boland © 2005

When employment is conditioned on submission to sexual advances, or when unwelcomed sexual conduct is so severe and pervasive that a reasonable employee would find it to be an offensive working environment, then it constitutes sexual harassment. Courts have carved out different standards for sexual harassment, depending on the conduct and who is doing the harassing. Ultimately, each case turns on its own facts-how severe the conduct was, who did it, and how the conduct impacted the victim of the harassment.


Sexually harassing behavior involves a range of conduct, from minor offensive words or acts to forced sexual activity and even rape. While there is no minimum level for harassing conduct under the law, the general rule is that the more severe the conduct, the less number of times it has to occur. For example, a single sexual advance may be enough to show sexual harassment if it is connected to granting or denying employment benefits.

However, unless the conduct is very serious, a single incident of offensive sexual conduct or comment generally does not create a hostile environment. This type of claim usually requires a showing of a pattern offensive conduct. A single, unusually severe incident of harassment may be sufficient, however. For example, a single incident of touching a coworker's intimate body areas is considered severe sexual harassment.

As you read the following section explaining the conduct that has been identified in sexual harassment claims, keep in mind that not all of this type of conduct will be considered severe enough to form the basis for a legal claim of sexual harassment. Most often, there are several types of sexually harassing behaviors present in the same case.

The less physically threatening forms of sexually harassing behaviors are also the most commonly reported. These include the following forms of harassment.

• Sexual Joking. Sexual harassment exists where the conduct is unwelcome. Therefore, while some women think that if they join in the joking it will lessen the impact of the harassment, it may, in fact, work against them. It provides evidence that they did not find it objectionable or offensive, and may result in a determination that they were not victims of a hostile environment. In fact, going along with the jokes is not effective in stopping harassment, and in a significant number of cases, just makes it worse.

As unfair as it may seem, the law permits review of provocative dress, bad language, and other conduct of the target of harassment. There are several cases in which complaints of sexual harassment were denied because the targets participated in sexual horseplay or used vulgar or foul language themselves. Ultimately, the determination of whether a work environment is hostile is made after reviewing all of the circumstances and the context in which the behavior occurred.

• Sexist Words. Sometimes sexual harassment takes the form of words that are directed at females in general, including:
• calling a woman "doll," "babe," "sweetie," or "honey";
• using sexist phrases, like "dumb blondes";
• claiming that "women cry more" or are "too emotional";
• asking male workers to "think above their belt buckles";
• announcing that "women can't manage" or "workers will not work for a woman";
• stating that "some jobs are just women's work"; or,
• suggesting that women should be "barefoot and pregnant."

• Sexist Behavior. A harasser's physical conduct may also contribute to a sexually harassing environment. Examples of sexually harassing conduct without words include:
• looking up and down a person's body;
• staring at someone;
• cornering a person or blocking a person's path;
• following the person;
• giving personal gifts;
• hanging around a person;
• intentionally standing too close to or brushing against a person;
• looking up a skirt or down a blouse;
• pulling a person onto one's lap;
• displaying sexist or sexual calendars;
• writing sexist or sexual graffiti;
• massaging or touching a person's clothing, hair, or body;
• hugging, kissing, patting, or stroking;
• touching or rubbing oneself sexually around another person;
• making facial expressions such as winking, throwing kisses, or licking lips;
• making sexual gestures with hands or through body movements; or,
• making catcalls, whistling suggestively, or engaging in lip smacking.

• Sexual Advances. Some harassment may include physical and verbal sexual advances towards one or more victims. Examples of these include:
• turning discussions to sexual topics;
• telling sexually explicit or suggestive jokes or stories;
• asking about sexual fantasies, experiences, preferences, or history;
• making sexual comments or innuendos;
• telling lies or spreading rumors about a person's sex life;
• asking personal questions about social or sexual life;
• making sexual comments about a person's clothing, anatomy, or looks;
• repeatedly asking out a person who is not interested; or,
• making harassing phone calls or emails.

Requests for Sex
This type of sexually harassing behavior typically occurs when a supervisor suggests or promises benefits, like a promotion or wage increase, if the victim engages in sexual activity. These requests include:
• asking a person to spend the night;
• asking a person to have an affair; or,
• asking a person to have sex or to engage in sexual conduct.

Sexual Intimidation
This type of coercion occurs when there is a warning that the employee will lose his or her job or lose a job benefit unless the he or she agrees to engage in a sexual activity. For example, telling a person to go to a motel to negotiate a raise or ordering a person to provide sexual services to avoid a transfer.

Sexual Criminal Conduct
Less common, but more violent, sexually harassing conduct may include:
• threats of harm;
• forced sexual touching; or,
• attempted or completed sexual assault.

Any attempted or completed grabbing, touching, or forcing sexual activity without consent is a sexual crime.

Meet the Author

Mary L. Boland received her law degree from John Marshall Law School in 1983. Since that time, she has worked as a legal advocate for victim's rights. She has authored legislation protecting victim's rights and has served as a consultant on projects for various public agencies. She is currently the co-chair of the Victim's Committee of the Criminal Justice Section of the American Bar Association and co-chair of the Victims Issues Committee of the Prosecutor's Bar Association of Illinois. She has also sat on many boards, task forces, and committees to develop better responses to sexual assault and sexual harassment victims in criminal and civil legal systems, including the Illinois Task Force on Gender Bias in the Illinois Courts, and the City of Chicago Advisory Council on Women, Violence Against Women Committee, which assisted in the preparation of sexual harassment policies and procedures for the City of Chicago.

Following are some of the books and articles Ms. Boland has authored.
--Model Code Revisited: Taking Aim at the High-Tech Stalker, American Bar Association, Criminal Justice Magazine (Spring 2005)
--Collecting Child Support (author, Sourcebooks 2004)
--Your Right to Child Custody, Visitation and Support (author, Sourcebooks Pub., 3rd Ed. 2004)
--Sexual Harassment: Your Guide to Legal Action (author, Sourcebooks 2002)
--Enhancing Prosecution Through Victim-Sensitive Interviewing, Treatment and Preparation, (chapter co-author) included in American Prosecutor's Research Institute, Prosecutor's Deskbook (2001)
--A Crime Victim's Guide to Justice (author, Sourcebooks 2nd Ed. 2001)
--Domestic Violence: A Prosecutor's Guide (author, Cook County State's Attorney's Office, 1996)
--Sexual Assault: Issues and Recommendations (expert contributor to ANew Directions, @ Crime Victims Agenda Project, U.S. Dept. of Justice, Office for Victims of Crime, 1996)

Ms. Boland is a full-time prosecutor and has been an adjunct professor at Governor's State University, Roosevelt University, and Loyola Law School in Chicago, Illinois.

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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: What you Need to Know - and What You Can Do 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The primary U.S. law regarding sexual conduct in the workplace, which Congress enacted in 1964, has had a profound impact on American society and business. Attorney Mary L. Boland¿s comprehensive handbook tells employers and employees how to define and prevent this problem and explains what to do if you are a victim. She provides the right level of detail for nonlawyers, pointing out the kinds of issues, conditions and events that can trigger a complaint. The book is readable and clearly organized, with sections that explain employer responsibilities, legal resources and remedies - from filing a lawsuit to arbitration and mediation. Four appendices and a glossary add valuable information. We highly recommend this lucid, practical book to human resource managers, executives, small business owners and employees at every level, particularly victims of sexual harassment.