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How is sexual harassment in the workplace defined?

In Texas and elsewhere, people deal with various forms of harassment while at work every single day. For female workers, sexual harassment tends to be the most common form experienced; though, it can happen to men as well. Victims of sexual harassment often refuse to report the issue, fearing that doing so will only hurt them in the long run or believing that their employers will fail to take action. If an employer does not address accusations of sexual harassment appropriately, the victim may have legal recourse.

What exactly is workplace sexual harassment? According to the U.S. Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC), it is defined as any unwanted or unwelcome sexual advances or conduct that creates an difficult work environment for the victim. There are various actions that may qualify as sexual harassment, including:

  • Inappropriate touching
  • Making sexual remarks
  • Telling sexual jokes
  • Sharing offensive material

How can liability be established in sexual harassment cases? Employer liability will depend on the facts of each individual case. It will matter who committed the harassment and what the company did when the harassment was reported.

Sexual harassment is never okay. It creates hostile and offensive work environments that no one should have to endure. Those in Texas who have been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace and whose employers failed to take any action to correct the issue, may file civil claims against their employers and abusers in an effort to seek compensation for any resulting physical, financial and/or psychological damages they have sustained.

Source: FindLaw, "Sexual Harassment at Work", Accessed on Dec. 8, 2016

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