The Civil Rights Act of 1964 made sexual discrimination in the workplace illegal. Fifty years later, problems persist, and employers still must take steps to protect against the threat of sexual harassment claims. In this area, the old adage “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is particularly fitting.
Michigan courts recognize at least three types of sexual harassment claims: (1) hostile environment claims – based on unwelcome conduct or communications on the basis of sex, which create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment; (2) quid pro quo claims – based on a co-worker or supervisor using an employee’s submission to, or rejection of, unwelcome sexual conduct or communication as a basis for employment decisions surrounding that employee; and (3) retaliation claims – based on adverse employment action taken against the employee (i.e., demotion, reduction in hours, etc.) after the employee reports sexual harassment.
Notably, an employer may be liable for sexual harassment based on the conduct of its employee, even where the employer did not encourage the alleged conduct or communications giving rise to the claim. The following are just a few of the steps employers should consider to protect against sexual harassment claims:
Please contact Wright Beamer today if you need assistance in adopting workplace anti-discrimination or anti-harassment policies or in handling other employment-related issues.