City of Alexandria, VA
What is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is an illegal form of gender discrimination that consists of unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of contexts, including housing, employment, public accommodations, health and social services, education, and credit.
Forms of Sexual Harassment
There are generally two different theories of proving sexual harassment:
Occurs when the victim's status, benefits or opportunities with regard to employment, housing, education, etc. are explicitly or implicitly conditioned upon the victim submitting to the harasser's sexual advances, either by engaging in sexual activity or tolerating other conduct of a sexual nature.
Occurs when someone's behavior (a fellow co-worker, a supervisor, non-employee, housing provider, etc.) is sexual in nature and is perceived as offensive and undesirable. This type of sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim. With these types of claims, the behavior must:
For more information on sexual harassment in the workplace, visit www.eeoc.gov.
Is it Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment comes in many forms, such as:
Preventing and Addressing Sexual Harassment
Prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers, managers, and employees all play a vital part in preventing and addressing sexual harassment. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should:
It is helpful for the victim to directly inform the harasser (or the harasser's supervisor) that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. If the behavior continues, write a memo addressed to the harasser requesting that he or she stop. The victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.
How is Sexual Harassment Proven?
As with other forms of discrimination, the Complainant bears the burden of proving sexual harassment. When investigating allegations of sexual harassment, our Office looks at the whole record, and will make a determination on the allegations on a case-by-case basis. Considerations include:
You should contact a Human Rights Investigator if you suspect sexual harassment.
Resources for Sexual Assault
In the most serious cases, sexual harassment can lead to sexual assault. We want to ensure that victims of sexual harassment and assault seek, and are provided with, adequate support. If you have been the victim of a sexual assault, the City has several resources available through: