What's sexual harassment and what's not?

What's sexual harassment and what's not?
Updated: Nov. 29, 2017 at 6:26 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - What constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace is determined on a case by case basis, said a local attorney, but the attention must be unwelcome and a "reasonable person" must be able to consider it hostile or offensive.

"Everything is a case by case basis, so it's very difficult to write in - this conduct means this," attorney Susan Moran said.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, EEOC, 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)."

The EEOC receives thousands of complaints of harassment based on sex each year, making up nearly half of all the harassment complaints they receive.

Since a part of sexual harassment is that the attention is unwanted, Moran recommends telling the harasser to stop, and that the behavior is unwelcome.

"Even if it seems like they're making a fun play of it, if both people aren't enjoying it, the person that's not enjoying it has a responsibility to shut it down,"  Moran said. 

She said, in the workplace, it also needs to be reported to a superior or to human resources.

Cleveland 19 asked Moran how someone should proceed if the harassment is coming from a superior, or if there isn't a human resources department.

"That's even more difficult, and I would say these agencies, these employers, really need to look at what their current policy is, because they're all getting exposed to liability. There should be a clear defined procedure," said Moran. "If everybody know what the rules are we can all play by the game."

An alleged victim has 180 calendar days from the day the discrimination took place to file a complaint with the EEOC or the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.

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