Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits employers from sexually harassing their employees per this mandate of Federal law. Sexual harassment is the unwanted sexual advances by supervisors of an employee. Supervisors, in these cases, are any employees of the company whose job function affects or reviews the job function of the harassed party. Victims of sexual harassment by supervisors are protected and may seek legal remedies under Title VII depending upon the severity and result of the charges.
Sexual harassment consisting of unwanted sexual advances by a supervisor may not be immediate violations of Federal law. What determines whether or not an advance is a violation of Title VII is the result of the charge. If the charge results in termination, negative pay, or creates a hostile work environment, then the charge is a violation of Title VII’s provisions.
For example, minor teasing or comments on physical appearance are not violations of Federal law, even if they are sexual in nature when given by supervisors. Unless these comments have tangible affects in the workplace other than awkwardness, they are not violations of Federal law.
Congress leaves it up to the disciplinary standards of the company to handle matters of sexual harassment in the workplace that does not violate Federal law. For instance, a supervisor may be reprimanded or internally demoted for making unwanted minor sexual advances at the company’s discretion so long as the supervisor’s actions do not violate Federal law. The company may not protect the supervisor from the provisions of Title VII.
Sexual harassment by supervisors must result in tangible employment action to be handled by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) under Title VII. Tangible employment actions are any significant changes in employment status or workplace operations. These may include hiring, firing, demotions, promotions, reassignments, or exclusions from benefits or bonuses.
If the claimant can prove a correlation between the supervisor’s harassment and his or her unfair treatment, the employer may be held in violation of Federal employment law under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.