Meaning of Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment may mean the following:
Passing sexually colored remarks against another person;
Asking for sexual favors;
Unwelcome physical touching by a person to another;
Unwelcome sexual advances;
Using sexually charged and vulgar language;
Sexual discrimination is also a part of sexual harassment. Using the gender of a person to discriminate is a part of it.
Generally, it is seen that only a man can do the above things to a woman. However, the laws are gender-neutral. If a woman does the above things to a woman, it would still be sexual harassment. Gender has become irrelevant.
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act deals with sexual harassment. It is a federal law. The Civil Rights Act was enacted in the year 1964. It deals with all types of prejudice in education, workplace, housing, employment, etc. It prohibits discrimination on the following:
A person has a right to file a claim in the case of workplace sexual harassment. It may be related to the same sex or different sex. The sex being irrelevant for the particular matter. Under federal law, the victim can file a suit against the perpetrators.
Apart from federal law, there are state-precise laws in the U.S. For example, in Texas, there exists the Texas Labor Code. In Chapter 21 of the said Code, sexual discrimination is prohibited.
In New York, there exists the New York City Administrative Code and the New York State Human Rights Law. Section 8-101 of the said former Code prohibits sexual harassment and sexual discrimination. The latter grants more protection against sexual harassment of the same gender.
In New Jersey, there exists a law called the New Jersey Law Against Discrimination (NJLAD). It also excludes sex discrimination on the fact of a personâ€™s orientation or sex. Even though sexual harassment by the same gender is not explicitly mentioned, it is covered by interpreting it in the way.
The courts have generously construed all of the aforementioned provisions in order to give full effect to the goals of the codes. Same-gender harassment has been included by the liberal interpretation of the courts.
Oncale v. Sundown Offshore Services, Inc., 523 U.S. 75 (1998)
Oncale v. Sundown Offshore Services is a landmark judgment of the Supreme Court of the U.S. It deals with sexual harassment and discrimination based upon the same sex. The case relates to the early 1990s. The plaintiff, Joseph Oncale, was a worker at the Sundowner Offshore Services on an oil platform. The plaintiff was subjected to same-sex discrimination by the co-workers. It was also said that the plaintiff was sodomized by a bar of soap. He was also threatened with rape. The plaintiff made several complaints to the supervisors, but the same fell on deaf ears. The sexual harassment did not stop, and therefore he had to quit the job. In the notice of termination of his employment, the plaintiff wanted the true reason for his exit from the company to be written, that is, left voluntarily due to sexual harassment and abusive behavior.
Following that, the plaintiff filed a case in Louisiana’s District Court. It was initially rejected. However, t he case was heard by the U.S Supreme Court. The Supreme Court stated that same-sex harassment and discrimination is also a form of sexual discrimination. This landmark case set a precedent for same-sex harassment in the United States.
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