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What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in Detroit?

— February 28, 2022

The term hostile work environment refers to those situations where an employee is harassed by one or more coworkers.

Sexual harassment is illegal in Michigan as it is a form of sex-bsed discrimination, prohibited under federal law, the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as well as under state law, namely the Michigan Civil Rights Act. This means you don’t have to put up with offensive behavior and if you find yourself in such a situation you should talk to experienced Detroit sexual harassment lawyers as soon as possible. They can help you understand if you have a legal case, what sort of evidence you need and what is the procedure to follow to make a complaint.

How is sexual harassment defined in Michigan?

The Michigan statute defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct or communication of a sexual nature”. The definition covers both types of sexual harassment described by the law, quid pro quo and hostile work environment.

If a supervisor or manager asks you for sexual favors and lets you know, directly or indirectly, that submitting to their demands is a condition for a promotion or for you to keep your job, this is a quid pro quo case. In such a case, seasoned Michigan sexual harassment lawyers will advise you to file a complaint with your employer right away. If your company has an anti-discrimination policy in place, follow the complaint mechanism indicated. On the other hand, if you work in a small company and you are harassed by your employer, there’s no one you can talk to, in which case you will have to file a complaint with the Michigan Civil Rights Commission or the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

What is a hostile work environment?

The term hostile work environment refers to those situations where an employee is harassed by one or more coworkers. Keep in mind that according to the law, both male and female employees can be subjected to sexual harassment, and the harasser can be of the same sex, not just the opposite sex. 

Sexual harassment can be of a physical nature, but it can also be verbal or visual.

Image by Andrew Neel, via
Image by Andrew Neel, via

Physical harassment refers to unwanted touching of a sexual nature. If a coworker keeps brushing against you, rubbing your shoulders, groping or kissing you without consent, this is harassment.

Verbal harassment includes sexual innuendos, obscene jokes, lewd comments about your looks or the use of derogatory terms for women. 

When you talk to skilled sexual harassment lawyers they will explain that you need prove that the offensive conduct was more than an isolated incident. If someone at work makes a sexist joke one day you cannot call it harassment. The offensive behavior needs to be pervasive and severe enough to cause you emotional suffering and interfere with your job performance. If your coworkers make sexual jokes and use derogatory terms on a daily basis, then you have a clear case of a hostile work environment. Your lawyers will be able to show that going into work every day caused you emotional distress and you were barely able to function knowing that at any moment someone would make another offensive joke or would try to touch your breasts again. 

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