As noted above, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended prohibits discrimination by covered employers on the basis of an employee’s race, color, religion, sex, or national origin. Courts have interpreted sex discrimination under Title VII to include sexual harassment. As emphasized by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment can include unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex.
Although the law does not prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or most isolated incidents, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision such as the victim being fired or demoted.