In 1986 Mechelle Vinson, a bank teller employed by Meritor Savings Bank, accused her manager (who was also the vice president of the company) of continual sexual harassment. At trial, the District Court found that Vinson was not the victim of sexual harassment or sexual discrimination while employed at the bank. However, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit reversed this decision under violation of Title VII, stating that there are two types of sexual harassment:
An employer has created or permitted a hostile work environment when there are frequent unwelcome comments, advances, requests, or actions that are sexual in nature and that negatively interfere with a person’s job performance. This includes:
In general, conduct must be unwanted and frequent or pervasive (or both) to be considered conducive to a hostile work environment. Whether or not these criteria have been met is determined on a case-by-case basis. A workplace is not usually deemed a hostile work environment if the activity in question was an isolated occurrence that was not repeated.
Unlike 'quid pro quo' harassment, a hostile work environment does not require any employment benefit to be at risk. Since it is not tied to the promise or threat of particular employment actions, this type of sexual harassment is found across all levels of employees. Another important distinction here is that inappropriate behavior between employees may also create a hostile work environment for other employees who were not actually the target of the behavior.
What must you do to make a hostile work environment sexual harassment claim?
The legal requirements for hostile work environment sexual assault include the following:
If you are suspect or believe that you are being subjected to 'hostile work environment' sexual harassment, refer to these next steps.
If you would like to learn more about your rights or believe that you have been discriminated against please visit the Civil Rights Justice Center located at 2150 N. 107th Street in Seattle Washington or visit our website at civilrightsjusticecenter.com