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Sex Discrimination and Sexual Harassment

Ever wonder exactly what “sexual harassment” means?

By
Michael W. Flynn
4-minute read

The second category of sexual harassment is called hostile work environment. To prevail, a plaintiff must show that the workplace is permeated with discriminatory behavior that is sufficiently severe or pervasive enough to create a discriminatorily hostile or abusive work environment. A court will consider (1) the frequency of the discriminatory conduct; (2) its severity: whether it is physically threatening or humiliating, or a mere offensive utterance; and (3) whether it unreasonably interfered with an employee's work performance. For example, if male employees leave the latest copy of Playboy open in the lunchroom every day, the environment is likely hostile. However, if one employee tells a sexist joke once at a company picnic, this would not likely be considered hostile. 

Well, that’s your crash course on sex discrimination and sexual harassment. These two areas of the law are very factually specific, incredibly complex, and evolving constantly. This series on employment discrimination will continue periodically, and cover topics including race discrimination, age discrimination, and disability discrimination.  

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