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Sexual harassment in Michigan

Despite advances in society and in the law, some employees still are subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace. As a result of such harassment, victims may face negative employment actions or endure hostile work environments. People do not have to continue putting up with such discriminatory behavior, however.

The law forbids employers from either engaging in sexual harassment or allowing it to continue by the employee's coworker. Sexual harassment includes such things as unwanted sexual advances as well as other verbal or physical conduct when compliance is made a condition of the person's job. If a person rejects an unwelcome advance and that rejection is used as a factor in employment decisions, the behavior is also prohibited.

Sexual harassment can take many forms. The victim may be demoted or fired as a result of refusing sexual advances. The victim may also undergo a hostile workplace as a result of being subjected to jokes, inappropriate touching, exposure and other activities. Threats of negative actions if the victim does not submit are also prohibited actions.

Sexual harassment is illegal under both Michigan state law as well as federal law. Unfortunately, such cases continue to occur every year. When people have been subjected to workplace sexual harassment, they may be able to hold the harasser and the employer civilly liable by filing sexual harassment complaints. Workers should not have to face hostile work environments or be threatened with negative job consequences due to such discriminatory behavior. When sexual advances and other actions have resulted in such things as demotions or in the creation of hostile work environments, affected individuals may benefit by seeking the advice of an employment law attorney. It is important to address such behavior soon after it occurs, as there are statutory deadlines for filing such complaints.

Source: Michigan Department of Civil Rights (, "Sexual and Other Forms of Discriminatory Harassment ", December 12, 2014

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