sexual harassment


Definition of sexual harassment

: uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate (such as an employee or student)

First Known Use of sexual harassment

1969, in the meaning defined above

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Time Traveler for sexual harassment

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The first known use of sexual harassment was in 1969

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Dictionary Entries Near sexual harassment

sexual generation

sexual harassment

sexual intercourse

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Statistics for sexual harassment

Cite this Entry

“Sexual harassment.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 12 Aug. 2022.

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sexual harassment


Legal Definition of sexual harassment

: employment discrimination consisting of unwelcome verbal or physical conduct directed at an employee because of his or her sex also : the tort of engaging in such discrimination — see also hostile environment sexual harassment, quid pro quo sexual harassment

Note: Sexual harassment has been found by federal courts to violate the protection in the Civil Rights Act of 1964 against discrimination in employment. There are also state statutes under which sexual harassment actions may be brought. In order to recover against an employer under a sexual harassment suit, the plaintiff has to show that the harassment affected the employment (as by being severe or pervasive) and that the employer is liable under respondeat superior because of actual or constructive knowledge of the harassment. Strict liability is often imposed for harassment of an employee by a supervisor or for quid pro quo sexual harassment.

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