Lis and the Single Girl: Sexual Harassment at Work

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Single and fabulous? Well then this is the column for you!

Every wish you had your own personal Carrie Bradshaw to answer your questions — not just about what to do if your boyfriend dumps you via text message — but serious issues that confront us? This special daily edition of “Lis on Law” will address topics that single women are faced and that everybody wonders about — but no one has time to figure out.

Between work, working out, dating and maintaining a social life, it’s tough to find time to do much else. So, read up and prepare to be fully armed for brunch this weekend with your friends with some super conversation topics! Your pals will be amazed!

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I think I’m being sexually harassed at work but I’m not sure if it qualifies as enough for a lawsuit. How do I know when it’s enough to sue?

Sexual harassment occurs whenever sexual conduct is unwelcome and affects the way you feel in your professional environment.

The U.S. Supreme Court defines two types of unlawful sexual harassment — the first is tangible employment action. When a supervisor forces their subordinate to cooperate with his or her sexual advances coupled with the intimidation of a penalty of demotion or firing, this qualifies as intangible employment action and often referred to as quid pro quo sexual harassment. To qualify under this type of harassment, the predator must be in a position of power.

The second type of sexual harassment is referred to as hostile environment. Typical behavior that can create this type of environment is gender based, unsolicited conduct, such as discussing sexual activity, telling inappropriate jokes, gratuitous touching, exhibiting suggestive photos, using inappropriate names, using offensive gestures, or giving special treatment to those who do participate in sexual advances.

It may be difficult for a woman to determine whether a colleague’s behavior has crossed the line from simply bothersome to sexual harassment. Courts differ as to where to draw this line. Some courts use a “reasonable woman” standard holding that if a reasonable woman would have felt harassed it is indeed sexual harassment — even if a reasonable man would disagree. Only unwelcome conduct qualifies as sexual harassment. Consensual dating, teasing or tickling cannot later be deemed as sexual harassment.

However, if. as a victim. you have made it clear that advances are uninvited, do not ignore it any longer. Seek legal advice regarding your situation. If you are truly uncomfortable at work and your wishes that the instigator relent have not been granted, seek help. No one should feel like prey, being stalked by a predator, while trying to work!

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Preventing Sexual Harassment
Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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The information contained in this Web site feature entitled “LIS ON LAW,” is provided as a service to visitors of, and does not constitute legal advice or establish an attorney client relationship. FOX NEWS NETWORK, LLC makes no claims, promises or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained in or linked to this web site feature and its associated sites. Nothing provided herein should be used as a substitute for the advice of your own counsel.

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Lis Wiehl joined FOX News Channel as a legal analyst in October 2001. She is currently a professor of law at the New York Law School. Wiehl received her undergraduate degree from Barnard College in 1983 and received her Master of Arts in Literature from the University of Queensland in 1985. In addition, she earned her Juris Doctor from Harvard Law School in 1987. Lis is also the author of The 51% Minority — How Women Still Are Not Equal and What You Can Do About It. (Watch the Video) To read the rest of Lis's bio, click here.