Sexual Harassment Law


Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964:

Title VII applies to all organizations with more than 15 employees. Title VII forbids discrimination in employment based on race, color, religion, national origin, handicapped status or sex. Sexual Harassment is a form of discrimination.

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972:

Title IX applies to all educational institutions who receives, or whose students receive, any federal funding. Title IX forbids discrimination on the basis of sex.

Supreme Court Decisions

A hostile environment has been created if a reasonable person in the victim’s situation would find the behavior offensive, and the sex of the victim is a relevant variable in making this judgment.

The intent of the perpetrator is not a factor in determining whether or not harassment has occurred. The impact of the behavior is the critical factor.

A person no longer has to demonstrate that he or she was harmed by the harassment, only that the perpetrator created a hostile environment or committed quid pro quo offenses.

Institutions and organizations can be held legally responsible for sexual harassment if they knew, or should have known, that it was occurring and did not take all reasonable measures to remedy and prevent it.

Even if the organization did not know (or should not have known) about the harassment, it is liable for damages if the harasser is a supervisor.

(Information in this section taken from West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services,