The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines the creation of a hostile workplace environment as a form of harassment or discrimination.

In cases of S-Xual harassment, harassment may include unwanted touching, offensive jokes and comments, or demand for favors in exchange for promotions or other compensation.

A work environment can also be discriminatory if comments, displays, or jokes are offered that are meant to be offensive to a worker based on his race, religion, disability, gender, S-Xual orientation or ethnicity. A hostile work environment is further defined as interfering with the employee’s ability to perform his job in a reasonable manner.

Defining the hostile work environment

According to the law, there are two forms of S-Xual harassment:

Quid pro quo harassment, which means “this for that,” is where a supervisor threatens to fire or not promote an employee if he or she doesn’t have S-X with that supervisor.

Hostile work environment harassment is where speech or conduct is severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile or abusive work environment. Examples of inappropriate conduct of a S-Xual nature include S-Xually oriented jokes, S-Xually explicit e-mail, screen savers, posters, cartoons, and graffiti, and unwanted verbal and physical contact. The standard used by civil rights agencies and courts in determining whether a hostile work environment exists is whether a reasonable person, in the same or similar circumstances, would find the conduct offensive.

** Assemble as much data supporting your complaint as possible. During the complaint process, you will be asked to provide the company’s name, address, and phone number and how many people are employed by the company. You will also be asked to briefly describe the events, the dates the events occurred and the contact information for possible witnesses.

** Verify that the time limit for filing your complaint has not expired. You can do this at the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission’s website. Most complaints must be filed within 180 days of the alleged violation, but if state or local laws also cover the violation, the time limit might be extended to 300 days.

Put it in writing

Chrys Martin focuses on employment law from the management perspective in the Portland, OR, office of Bullivant Houser Bailey. She said that managers have the legal responsibility to make sure the workplace is free from harassment or discrimination