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Sexual discrimination and harassment

Sex-based discrimination in the workplace is illegal in Maryland and across the United States. Such discrimination is forbidden by law in all terms and conditions of employment, including hiring, pay, training, the assignment of jobs, promotion, benefits, layoffs and firing. Employment policies that apply across the board to all employees may be against the law when such policies have an unfavorable effect on the employment of persons of a particular sex.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual discrimination as the negative treatment of an individual, whether employee or applicant, on the basis of that person's sex. Gender identity discrimination and discrimination based on sexual orientation are included in the definition. The unfavorable treatment of transgender, gay or lesbian employees is considered a violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 as well.

Sexual harassment is a particular form of sex-based discrimination that involves unwanted sexual attention and remarks considered offensive to individuals of a given sex. Sexual harassment does not only occur between men and women. A man is equally capable of harassing another man, or a woman harassing a woman. Such harassment is prohibited no matter the perpetrator's business relationship with the victim, whether that person be the victim's boss, a coworker, a supervisor of another division, a client or a customer.

An individual who has been the victim of sexual harassment or any other form of sex-based discrimination in the workplace has legal recourse. An employees' rights attorney may be able to provide advice regarding the legal steps such a victim should take. Pursuing a sexual harassment claim or discrimination claim may rectify an unfair or threatening workplace situation, and could reimburse the victim for damages associated with both the pain and suffering they have undergone as well as wages lost due to discriminatory treatment.

Source: US EEOC, "Sex-Based Discrimination", December 16, 2014

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The Law Firm of
Stephen S. Burgoon

5235 Westview Drive, Suite 100
Frederick, MD 21703
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