The Florida Bar

Sexual Harassment

December 13, 2022

In the United States it is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or an employee) because of that person’s sex.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 puts sexual harassment into two groups:

  • Quid pro quo
  • Hostile work environment

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is where a manager asks or hints to their subordinate at sexual favors in return for employment benefits. Some common benefits include: wage increases, new offices, promotion, or more desirable shifts. Common repercussions for not accepting a supervisor’s advances include termination, threats, demotion, or wage decrease.

Hostile work environment sexual harassment is when there are repeated sexual advances, sexual gestures, jokes, or other comments that prevent an employee from doing their job.

Employer Liability

Broadly, it is the employer’s responsibility to maintain a workplace that is free of sexual harassment. Because of this, employers are often liable for their supervisors’ actions or another employees’ actions.

Most employers are encouraged to protect themselves by setting up a sexual harassment policy, and by establishing a clear reporting policy that employees can use when they feel they’re being sexually harassed in the workplace.

If an employer has been made aware of sexual harassment in the workplace or they should’ve been aware and they do not take action, they can face liability.

Documenting Sexual Harassment

Whether you’re the victim of sexual harassment or you’re an employer looking to set a policy for handling sexual harassment claims, you should know what to document.

The following things are typically included:

  • The date, time and location of the event
  • The people directly involved in the incident
  • Whether this is a single incident or a repeated series of events
  • How the alleged sexual harassment impacted the employee

Changes may occur in this area of law. The information provided is brought to you as a public service, and is intended to help you better understand the law in general. It is not intended to be legal advice regarding your particular problem or substitute for the advice of a lawyer.