The law prohibits sexual harassment in two forms, quid pro quo and hostile work environment:
Quid pro quo Harassment – This form of sexual harassment usually involves a request for sexual favors in exchange for continued employment, a promotion, increased pay, or other employment benefit. The victim of this form of harassment may suffer adverse actions including failure to promote, reduction in pay or benefits, demotion or termination as a result of refusing to agree to the sexual advances of the supervisor or co-worker.
Hostile Work Environment Harassment- This form of sexual harassment involves severe or pervasive use of unwelcome and offensive language, sexual images, or physical touching that a reasonable person would find to be objectionable. Not every sexual innuendo, joke or act will rise to the level of legally prohibited sexual harassment. However, a substantial number of inappropriate comments or offensive acts can give rise to a sexual harassment claim. Having a sexual harassment policy that the employer enforces may legally require the employee to follow those policies by reporting the harassment to the designated manager or Human Resources representative and allowing the employer a reasonable opportunity to investigate the matter and remedy the situation.
Non-harassment policies will assist you in learning about errant employees, assist you in limiting your liability, and help you train your employees to be mindful of discrimination.