Parks Chesin & Walbert | sexual harassment
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From Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas to Gretchen Carlson, Roger Ailes: Ain’t No Sunshine When She’s Gone

Mention sexual harassment to anyone of news-viewing age in the 1990s and few names spring to mind faster than Anita Hill or Clarence Thomas. The phrase “sexual harassment” was first coined by journalist and Cornell lecturer, Lin Farley, as a succinct description of the unwelcome, insidious behavior women experienced in male-dominated work environments. However, the phrase – and its meaning – didn’t come to national prominence until 1991 – the year Clarence Thomas was nominated to the United States Supreme Court.


Employment Practices Liability Insurance: What It Is & Why It Matters

Roger Murdoch is probably thankful he has insurance.

Earlier this year, Gretchen Carlson, a former high-profile news anchor on Fox News, sued Roger Ailes and Fox for damages relating to decades of sexual harassment she experienced during her Fox News tenure. Her suit quickly settled for an astonishing $20 million. In the aftermath, many women employed at Fox came forward (and continue to come forward) with stories about a pervasive business culture of both quid pro quo and hostile-work-environment types of harassment within the Fox News corporation.


The History of Sexual Harassment Claims in the Workplace

It is only in the last 50 years that sexual harassment has become recognized as an obstacle to a safe working environment for all employees. For hundreds of years it was nearly impossible for a woman to successfully bring claims of rape or a lawsuit for damages against an employer who harassed her or demanded sexual favors. The rise of the Women’s Rights Movement in the mid-1800’s brought to light the issue of sexual coercion of working women (particularly servants). However, this generally received less attention than women’s lack of access to property rights, poor working conditions, and societal dependence on men.


Sexual Harassment: Blurred Lines

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 makes workplace sexual harassment illegal. Sexual harassment includes sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other sexual conduct that “explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment”. This includes “quid pro quo” behavior, and any conduct that works to create a hostile work environment. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is tasked with enforcing Title VII. An investigation will consider the wider picture of the workplace by asking questions like: What is the nature of the sexual advances? What is the context of the workplace?


When to Go to Human Resources

Employers typically use their human resources department for: job design and analysis, recruitment and hiring, training and development, performance, compensation, and legal issues. Employees often turn to their HR department when they have a question or a problem. This article focuses on when it is a good idea to take a problem to HR and how to document the communication.


Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Federal law, specifically Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, makes sexual harassment in the workplace illegal. However, many states have made sexual harassment a violation of state law as well.

Illegal and unwanted sexual conduct falls under two types of behaviors: (1) quid pro quo, which essentially means if you do this for me, I will do that for you and (2) hostile work environment, which is where intentional, severe, actions interfere with an employee’s or a witness’s ability to perform her job. In order to prove that an employee is working under a hostile work environment he or she will have to prove that the offensive behavior was recurrent and pervasive—and that he or she had to endure this workplace environment in order to keep his or her job.


I’m a Target of Sexual Harassment, What are My Options?

Sexual harassment is defined as any unwanted advances of a sexual nature that come from a person within the workplace. This individual can be a supervisor, a co-worker or even a patron of the facility. The main factor that makes a situation sexual harassment is the fact the advances are offensive and unwanted. If you are a target of sexual harassment, you will want to know what options you have for ending the activities. The following are the steps that one can take to resolve the issue: