Sexual Harassment Laws: Then and Now

Posted on: May 3, 2019

Sexual harassment is an unfortunate reality that a lot of people deal with on a regular basis, and it happens more often than you think. The fear of sexual harassment has been present ever since people in power or high positions abuse their authority to take advantage of people beneath them. Sexual harassment occurs due to the prevalence and acceptance of misogyny and rape culture in society, making it a ‘normal’ part of everyday life. Both women and men can also experience sexual harassment in their school or workplace but are too fearful of speaking up as they don’t want to deal with retaliation from their employers.

What Sexual Harassment is and its Various Forms

Sexual harassment is any form of unwelcomed sexual behavior that offends, humiliates, or intimidates the victim. This devious act can be done either verbally or physically. It can even happen online or be written down. It can also go beyond touching or comments that have sexual undertones. Seemingly harmless remarks such as aggressive compliments and curiosity on one’s sex life can also be considered as sexual harassment.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), there are two types of sexual harassment claims. The first is the Quid pro quo which states that a person in power is asking for sexual favors in exchange for particular benefits. The other claim is the ‘hostile work environment,’ wherein a person is subjected to a working environment that is demeaning or intimidating, due to unwanted sexual advances, side comments, and other related actions that make the workplace less conducive to work.

Raising Awareness

Fortunately, there have been attempts in raising the issues on sexual harassment to be noticed by the general public. The #MeToo movement, a social movement that made big waves in recent years, is a campaign of sexual harassment victims to push other victims to voice out their tragic experiences and expose those who have wronged and abused them. While women have been calling out abusers for the longest time, the stories from the #MeToo movement have received widespread respect and are told without victim-blaming, making it one of the most successful campaigns to raise awareness on sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment incidents can happen at any time and anywhere. Anyone can do it and also be part of the wrong end of it. Due to these incidents, how exactly have these violations been dealt with in the eye of the law?

Sexual Harassment Laws Through the Years

While deeds relating to sexual harassment have been happening for the longest time, sexual harassment was only declared illegal when the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed. Before this act, women’s rights were only similar to laws protecting slaves which prevent individuals from being treated as property. For women, this prevented them from being married off for financial gain.

The Civil Rights Act of 1964 was first proposed by John F. Kennedy and is considered as one of the best moments in the fight for civil rights back in the 60s as it ended segregation and employment discrimination. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 helped protect women in the workplace for the first time.

1972 was when Title IX of the Education Amendments was issued. The amendments prohibited sex discrimination in schools that receive federal funding. In the 80s, lines that showed where sexual harassment start were made more explicit. 1980 was the year the EEOC defined sexual harassment in the workplace as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.” For example, speech was ruled to create a hostile working environment in 1986. In 1991, harassment plaintiffs were allowed to a jury trial in federal court.

In 1998, it was set that employers can be held liable for sexual harassment by their employees even without threats or favors being carried out. 2005 was when Congress passed the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act, an act that allocates funds to victims of sexual violence and assault.

Thanks to these laws, the toxic culture that bred sexual harassment is being dealt with steadily. The legal system is now taking notice of this epidemic and predators who used to get away with it are now being called out, benefiting all women and men alike.

Seek Experienced Sexual Harassment Lawyers

Sexual harassment can happen to anyone at any time. It can occur in places where you’re supposed to feel safe, like your workplace. If you experience any form of sexual harassment from anyone in your workplace, do not hesitate to call an attorney to help you file for your claim. There are laws in place that protect and empower victims of these kinds of incidents.

Mesriani Law Group houses experienced and exceptional sexual harassment lawyers who will guide and assist you through the entire process of your claim. We offer a No Win No Fee agreement, guaranteeing you get the best service from filing the complaint to collecting your claims. Contact our Los Angeles law firm today and to avail of a free consultation with one of our brilliant sexual harassment lawyers today.