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How is sexual harassment defined by the EEOC?

Even in a time when many groups such as women and the LGBT community have successfully combated prejudice, sex discrimination continues to be a problem in the workplace here in Texas and elsewhere. Much of this discrimination takes the form of unwanted sexual advances and other inappropriate behavior. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discusses sexual harassment as it is defined by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which applies to any company that has more than 15 employees, labor organizations and employment agencies, along with the federal government.

Physical or verbal behavior of a sexual nature, requests for sexual favors and unwelcome sexual advances all constitute sexual harassment. The conduct does not have to be aimed directly at a victim to be offensive -- it just has to be unwelcome. Harassers and victims alike can be either men or women, and it is not necessary for them to be of the opposite sex. Harassers can be supervisors, co-workers or agents of the company, along with non-employees.

The EEOC recommends that every employee, supervisor and manager receive training regarding what constitutes sexual harassment and how allegations will be dealt with if they arise. Employers should have a complaint mechanism outlined in their policies and procedures, along with what constitutes inappropriate behavior. Complaints should be dealt with immediately and appropriately.

Despite these recommendations, there are companies here in Texas and elsewhere that allow sexual harassment to continue. Sex discrimination can ruin a person's career and have long-term effects on his or her life. Anyone who becomes the victim of this unconscionable behavior would benefit from knowing the full extent of his or her legal rights.

Source: eeoc.gov, "Facts About Sexual Harassment", Aug. 26, 2016

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