Frequently Asked Questions

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What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination, which is a violation of Title VI I of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The EEOC guidelines define two types of sexual harassment: "quid pro quo" and "hostile environment."

What Is "Quid Pro Quo" Sexual Harassment?

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute "quid pro quo" sexual harassment when (1) submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual's employment, or (2) submission to of rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such an individual.

What Is "Hostile Environment" Sexual Harassment?

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute "hostile environment" sexual harassment when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

What Factors Determine Whether An Environment Is "Hostile"?

The central inquiry is whether the conduct "unreasonably interfered with an individual's work performance" or created "an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.".

What Is Unwelcome Sexual Conduct?

Sexual conduct becomes unlawful only when it is unwelcome. The challenged conduct must be unwelcome in the sense that the employee did not solicit or incite it, and in the sense that the employee regarded the conduct as undesirable or offensive.

Who Can Be A Victim Of Sexual Harassment?

The victim may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.

Who Can Be A Sexual Harasser?

The harasser may be a woman or a man. He or she can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.

Can One Incident Constitute Sexual Harassment?

It depends. In "quid pro quo" cases, a single sexual advance may constitute harassment if it is linked to the granting or denial of employment or employment benefits. In contrast, unless the conduct is quite severe, a single incident or isolated incidents of offensive sexual conduct or remarks generally do not create a "hostile environment."

Can Verbal Remarks Constitute Sexual Harassment?

Yes. The EEOC will evaluate the totality of the circumstances to ascertain the nature, frequency, context, and intended target of the remarks.

What Should A Sexual Harassment Victim Do?


The victim should directly inform the harasser that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. It is important for the victim to communicate that the conduct is unwelcome, particularly when the alleged harasser may have some reason to believe that the advance may be welcomed.

If you feel you have been a victim of sexual harassment at work or school, learn more about your legal rights by filling out our case evaluation form.

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