Sexual harassment is a form of gender-based discrimination. According to the Delaware Department of Labor, workplace sexual harassment is unwanted gender-based attention, such as requests for sexual favors, sexual advances, or verbal or physical sexual behavior. The unwelcome attention must affect an employee’s job or job performance, create intimidation or hostility, or result in an offensive work environment.

Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act

The Delaware Discrimination in Employment Act makes it illegal for employers to tolerate sexual harassment. It applies to government and private employers (including talent agencies and unions) with at least four employees. The law states that a victim or a harasser can be any gender, a victim or a harasser may or may not be a person with power in the company, a victim or a harasser might be a customer or client, and a secondary victim could be a witness to the harassment.

Employers Must Do This for All Employees

The state of Delaware wants employers to prevent sexual harassment. The first thing employers can do is communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be permitted. Employee training that defines sexual harassment and explains a reporting procedure for it establishes an intention for equality. For employers with 50 or more employees, the training is required.

If sexual harassment is reported, employers must immediately investigate the complaint and communicate honestly with the alleged victim throughout the process. Their investigation will look at the circumstances of the harassment: the nature of the allegation, its context, whether there are witnesses, whether it happened more than once, and other unique details.

Victims Must Do This

Ideally, sexual harassment would not happen. Also ideally, a victim could sternly tell a harasser to stop and they would. In reality, it is a victim’s responsibility to tell a harasser their attentions are unwelcome and to stop. Only after directly addressing it with a harasser can a victim follow their employer’s reporting procedure. 

Victims should understand their rights. Plenty of information is available online, but it can be tricky to understand.

Employers Must Do This for Alleged Victims

After a report of sexual harassment, employers are required to investigate it. They must remain impartial and faithfully probe to determine whether the allegation of sexual harassment can be substantiated. Regardless of whether you work for the state government in Dover or a small company in Bowers, your employer must take appropriate steps.

According to the Discrimination in Employment Act, employers are legally prohibited from retaliating against employees who report gender-based harassment or who participate or testify in a harassment investigation or lawsuit. This includes employees who may be witnesses.

Where to Turn for Help

If you tried to resolve sexual harassment by going through your employer’s reporting procedure, but your employer did not investigate your allegation or has declared it to be untrue, you do not have to give up. You can get the help of a legal expert, who can determine whether you have legal recourse.

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