Is it possible to take legal action against the company regarding sexual harassment?

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Is it possible to take legal action against the company regarding sexual harassment?

I have had some incidents at my workplace where my supervisor was repeatedly putting pornographic magazines in my face in order to try to get a reaction from me. I refused to look at them and take part in these behaviors; as a result my supervisor began to spread rumors that I am a homosexual. I went to one of the company’s managers, explained what was happening, and asked if he could put an end to it all. Since doing that, the supervisor stopped putting the magazines in my face, but he continues to harass me by calling me a homosexual and making it difficult to go to work on a daily basis. Is the constant calling me a homosexual, even after me going to the company manager, still considered sexual harassment?

Asked on February 18, 2012 under Employment Labor Law, Michigan

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

What you are describing is not sexual harassment per se; rather it is harassment based on sexual orientation. Morally, it is as reprehensible; however, legally, it is different. Only forms of discrimination specifically barred by law are illegal. Federal law prohibits discrimination based on an employee's sex/gender, race, religion, age over 40, or disability; MI law protects a few additional categories, including marital and family status or national origin.

Notably, neither set of laws prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation, unlike say, the law of NJ, NY, or CA, which does. Therefore, if you are suffering harassment in MI because you are homosexual (or are perceived to be homosexual), that, unfortunately, may be legal.

 


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