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What legal claims can be made for sexual harassment?

When Detroit residents have a goal in mind, there are often many different roads that may be taken in order to reach the same goal. This is true in the legal system as well, as different legal claims exist depending on the circumstances involved in each case. In any event, while the legal claim itself may differ from situation to situation, the ultimate goal of the person who has been harmed is to obtain accountability and relief from the other side.

Last week, this blog discussed the general issue of who can be a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace. While many different people can be victims of harassment, it is also important to understand that different types of legal claims based on harassment may exist.

Generally, two types of claims exist under Title VII. First, when an employer makes certain unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors in exchange for a term of employment, it may constitute quid pro quo harassment. For instance, if a supervisor promises a promotion in exchange for a sexual favor, or fires a person who refused to engage in a sexual act, it may constitute quid pro quo harassment.

On the other hand, if there are not direct exchanges at issue, there may be other claims available based on severe harassment in the workplace. If the employee's work performance suffers because of a pervasive and hostile environment, there may be a claim based on the hostile work environment.

Accordingly, there are different avenues for relief when an employee suffers harassment in the workplace. These different options are important to be aware of for the legal claims, as they can affect what the person must prove in the case. Ultimately, the end goal of obtaining relief for the wrongful harassment remains the same, no matter which particular claim is asserted in the case.

Source: American Association of University Women, "Know your rights: Workplace sexual harassment," accessed on June 27, 2015

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