Harassment is a form of discrimination that may take a variety of forms, including offensive remarks about an individual, derogatory speech or actions that are directed at a specific individual or group of individuals, and other unwelcome communication, action or physical conduct. Harassment based on a protected characteristic is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment, or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as constructive discharge or demotion of the victim of harassment). The harasser may be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker or a third party (such as a client or customer).
Sexual harassment is a type of harassment on the basis of sex prohibited by Executive Order 11246. Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, offensive remarks about a person’s sex, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:
- Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment;
- Submission or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions against the individual; or
- 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.325
325. See 41 CFR 60-20.8. Harassment based on sex also includes harassment based on pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions; and harassment that is not sexual in nature but that is because of sex or sex-based stereotypes.