Employees have the right to be free of sexual harassment in the workplace. Sexual harassment can take one of two forms: (1) Quid Pro Quo and/or (2) Hostile Work Environment.
“Quid Pro Quo” sexual harassment may occur when employment or employment benefits are conditioned upon the employee's acquiescence to unwanted sexual advances. “Hostile Work Environment” sexual harassment generally occurs when an employee is the subject of unwanted sexual advances, or other sexual conduct (be it visual, verbal and/or physical). The conduct, however, must be sufficiently severe or pervasive, as a matter of law, to rise to the level of unlawful sexual harassment. In many cases, a few isolated incidents may not be sufficient.
Whether an employee has a viable sexual harassment claim may depend upon some or all of the following factors: (1) Whether the conduct was committed without consent; (2) Whether the conduct was sufficiently severe or pervasive; (3) Whether the person committing the harassment was a co-worker or a supervisor; (4) Whether the company maintained a written policy against sexual harassment; (5) Whether the employer had adequate notice of the sexually harassing conduct; (6) Whether the employer undertook a reasonable investigation and preventative steps following notice of the sexually inappropriate conduct.
A claim for sexual harassment typically makes available compensatory damages, emotional distress damages, punitive damages, and the reimbursement of reasonable attorney fees and costs.