The Maine Human Rights Act prohibits anyone from discriminating or harassing someone based on sex, and it covers both private and public employers, regardless of how many people they employ. There are many ways that a person can be discriminated against and sexually harassed, and if you are a victim, you do have many resources available to make the abuse stop.
What does “sexual harassment” mean in legal terms?
Sexual harassment is typically not one behavior or isolated incident; rather, it is a systematic way that an employee or supervisor intimidates and threatens someone, enough so that they create what is legally called a “hostile work environment.” To be considered a hostile work environment, the misconduct has to be repetitious and relentless – so much so that it makes a worker feel uncomfortable and interferes with their ability to work in the capacity that they are supposed to.
Behaviors that constitute sexual harassment can vary widely, but some examples are sexual innuendos, unwelcome sexual advances, derogatory comments or remarks based on sex or gender, nonconsensual touching, and displaying sexually explicit material or images.
The other kind of sexual harassment might be based on just one incident, and it’s called “quid pro quo.” This is a Latin term that means “you do something for me and I will do something for you.” Quid pro quo harassment happens when a supervisor or boss explicitly or implicitly makes it known that you have to engage in sexual favors to either further your position at work or to save it. If someone who holds a place of authority over you at work either threatens your position if you don’t acquiesce to their sexual advance or they offer you a perk, that constitutes quid pro quo sexual harassment.