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What is sexual harassment according to the EEOC?

If people are careful, the term "sexual harassment" isn't thrown around lightly in the workplace. After all, accusing a co-worker or manager of sexual harassment could result in disciplinary action, or even termination of employment. But, the fact is that sexual harassment, unfortunately, still occurs in workplaces throughout the country, and in Minnesota. When an employee brings a claim of sexual harassment in the workplace, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is likely to get involved at some point. So, what is sexual harassment, according to the EEOC?

The reality is that even the EEOC can't put a strict definition on what exactly constitutes sexual harassment. However, the agency does provide some examples: unwanted sexual advances; offensive sexual comments; and unwanted physical sexual contact. But, the EEOC provides an important caveat: these types of incidents may not rise to the level of sexual harassment if they are a one-time thing. The EEOC says that the harassment at issue can rise to the level of being illegal sexual harassment if the conduct is frequent or severe, and it results in a hostile work environment.

Employees in Minnesota can have more than just their feelings and sensibilities hurt by sexual harassment. In severe cases, the sexual harassment could result in a demotion or other types of unlawful retaliation. And, the harassment could come from anyone in the workplace, not just a supervisor.

A victim of harassment has options under the law. Sexual harassment is illegal, and no one should have to be subjected to this type of behavior.

Source: eeoc.gov, "Sexual Harassment," Accessed May 20, 2017

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