According to the Massachusetts Fair Employment Practices Act, employers are prohibited from discriminating against anyone due to their gender, sexual identity, or gender identity. Massachusetts law defines “gender identity” as anything that is related to their behavior, appearance, and identity, regardless of whether it is physically alternating gender assignment or not. The Act applies to both private and public employers with more than six workers and strictly prohibits both discrimination and sexual harassment.
Being sexually harassed can be a series of behaviors or a single act of misconduct
There are times when sexual harassment happens in a series of behaviors or actions that are pervasive and repetitious enough to make someone uncomfortable and to intimidate them to the point where it creates a hostile work atmosphere. Although there are many behaviors that can constitute sexual harassment, some examples include sexual innuendos, unwelcome sexual advances, nonconsensual touching, derogatory comments or remarks, or displaying sexually explicit material. If it is enough to make any reasonable person feel offended, then it is sexual harassment. A “reasonable person” is a legal concept that means anyone else in the same situation would be equally offended by someone’s misconduct. If you can prove that someone’s actions created a hostile work atmosphere, then you have been sexually harassed.
An instance when sexual harassment is based on a one-time occurrence is if someone in a position of power or authority over you or your position makes sexual requests that you feel obligated to comply with for fear of retaliation or negative work consequences. “Quid pro quo” means “this for that,” and it is a kind of harassment where someone offers “this” if you do “that.” It can be an offer of a work-related perk or promotion, or explicitly or implicitly making you feel you have to agree to their request or suffer demotion, termination, or other negative job-related issues.