What kind of sexual harassment is illegal?

It is unlawful to discriminate or harass a person because of that person's sex. But we often get the question what type of harassment reaches the level of being illegal sexual harassment?

Illegal sexual harassment is any type of sexual behavior that is unwelcome and/or inappropriate for the workplace. Sexual harassment may include verbal harassment, such as dirty jokes or derogatory comments, visual harassment, such as the placement of embarrassing or inappropriate posters, drawings and cartoons and/or physical harassment, such as sexual advances, sexual demands and unwelcome touching.

In the workplace, sexual harassment can come from the business owner, a supervisor, a manager, a foreperson, a co-worker or even a customer. Sexual harassment at a school is also illegal.

Both men and women can be the victims of sexual harassment and both the victim and the harasser can be be the same sex. 

Although the law doesn't prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). Sexual harassment can include any type of such conduct, including pornography, offensive jokes, sexual bullying, repeated touching, etc.

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