Sexual harassment is a two word phrase which hopes to never be brought up in a fire department, legally or just in conversation. It is a despicable practice that is widely acceptable around the nation in fire departments and in business. However, it is not tolerated on the legal front, nor should it ever be condoned in a professional environment. Discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender is absolutely intolerable and is a plague on today’s fire service. Claims on sexual harassment arise all the time and are never short of horrendous and demeaning acts, as well as crude remarks against the plaintiff. Many legal issues arise when it comes to sexual harassment as so many aspects play into a claim of sexual harassment.
The term ‘sexual harassment’ is defined as -
“Unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, when submission to or rejection of this conduct affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment” By J. Curtis Varone, Legal Considerations for Fire and emergency services, 2nd edition, page 421. Accordingly sexual harassment claims tend to include almost all the above elements as well as many more elements, be they physical or verbal. It is also broken down into two main categories. The two categories of sexual harassment are ‘quid pro quo’ (this for that) and ‘hostile work environment’.
Quid Pro Quo sexual harassment – “Occurs when the employee’s employment opportunities or benefits are granted or denied because of an individual’s submission to sexual advances or requests for sexual favors.” Varone, 421. Such examples of this kind of sexual harassment would include a female firefighter being denied a promotion unless she submitted to a perverse act entirely unrelated to the typical means of promotion. Often times, such harassment only occurs whereby the...
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