Alaska’s Approach to Sexual Harassment Laws

Alaska is the last real frontier in the United States. It is a state that is full of wide-open spaces and wilderness, where many of its citizens live off the grid and work on their own land. The majority of people in Alaska who work outside of the home do so in Alaska’s towns and cities. When employees in cities like Anchorage and in towns like Auke Bay go to work, they expect their workplace to be safe and fair. Employers are required to protect their employees and to provide equal treatment and conditions for employees. 

Discrimination and Sexual Harassment

Courts view sexual harassment as a form of discrimination in workplaces. The Alaska State Commission for Human Rights defines workplace sexual harassment as unwelcome behavior of a sexual nature (physical, verbal, or visual), including requests for sexual favors and unwelcome sexual advances. The term “gender” is used broadly to include sexual orientation and gender identity. A few examples are not being promoted because of your gender, repeated overt leering from a coworker, sexual comments, being mocked because of your sexual orientation, and inappropriate touching. This conduct can very negatively affect employees, and employers are required to put a stop to it.

Your Employee Rights

Regardless of whether you live in the Alaskan frontier or in one of the state’s towns or cities, you are protected by federal and state laws against workplace discrimination and sexual harassment. Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1965 prohibits sexual harassment based on gender, and the Alaska Human Rights Law  provides the same protection. These laws are intended to make workplaces safe and equal to all employees, regardless of gender. 

What You Have To Prove

First, you should know that it is illegal for your employer to retaliate against you for reporting sexual harassment. You are meant to be safe from further harassment if you speak up.

If you have been sexually harassed, it is your responsibility to prove it. Alaskan courts look for these results of workplace sexual harassment to prove its existence: 

  • Submitting to the harassment was a (overt or implied) condition of employment.
  • Submitting to or rejecting the harassment was used to make an employment decision.
  • The harassment has unreasonably interfered with work performance.
  • The harassment has resulted in an intimidating or hostile environment at work.

Victims should try to inform themselves by reviewing online legal information about Alaskan law and their employer’s policy against sexual harassment (if available).

If You Need Help

You have 180 days from the date when you were harassed to file a federal complaint and 300 days from the date of the harassment to file a complaint with the state. It is wise to use some of that time to research your situation. If you need someone to explain the law, help navigate the complaint process, and ultimately file a complaint, a legal expert can help.

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