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Who can be a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace?

When it comes to hot button issues, there often tends to be a lot of myths and misinformation spread to Detroit residents. A good example of this is with sexual harassment in the workplace, which often is misunderstood by many until they have direct experience with it.

For instance, many individuals may believe that only women can be sexually harassed. In reality, Title VII, which is the statute that provides many of the legal claims and remedies in this area of employment law, very clearly provides that a victim of harassment can be either a man or a woman. Similarly, the person who is doing the harassing does not need to be of the opposite sex in order for a valid claim to exist.

There are also misunderstandings when it comes to the issue of who can be a harasser. Under Title VII, the harasser does not need to be a person's direct supervisor. Instead, it could be a supervisor, co-worker, an agent of the company or a supervisor in another area.

Accordingly, when a person is subject to unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other conduct of a sexual nature by any of these individuals, they may have a valid legal claim for sexual harassment. Individuals facing this harassment should understand their rights, such as the right to inform the employer of the wrongful conduct and to be protected against retaliation from the employer for making such a report.

If individuals feel they have been a victim of harassment in violation of Title VII or another statute, they should act immediately to protect their rights. Strict time limits can apply to legal claims, depending on the circumstances, and therefore it is essential that individuals be proactive in protecting themselves.

Source: EEOC, "Facts about sexual harassment," accessed on June 19, 2015

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