Science & Education
Sexual harassment is a type of sexual discrimination and is therefore protected against by federal and state laws. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 is the federal law that protects workers, and the 1991 amendments allow for jury trial with compensatory and punitive damages. Sexual harassment has been defined by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) as follows: “Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal and physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when” (a) “submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment,” (b) “submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual,” or (c) 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” (1,2). Although EEOC guidelines are not law, judicial opinions have used this definition as a guide. In this scenario, probably the best answer is B. The courts have clearly determined that the behavior must be “sufficiently severe and pervasive” that it changes the conditions of employment for the person who is being harassed (2). This answer underscores the challenges in determining sexual harassment that may not be blatant as it is occurring. The correct answer to Question 1 is B (not sure; the behavior has not taken place over a long enough time to see if this is a pattern or if there are consequences for the resident).