Unheard of until the 1970s, sexual harassment has become a dominant concern of employers, schools, and other organizations throughout the country. It is one of the most litigated areas of sexual discrimination law, and virtually all major companies, government organizations, colleges and universities and even the military now have sexual harassment policies in place. Even the president of the United States has been subject to a sexual harassment lawsuit.
The definition of sexual harassment has always been controversial. Black’s Law Dictionary defines it as “”A type of employment discrimination consisting in verbal or physical abuse of a sexual nature,” and it has also been held to exist in educational situations. But beyond this, there is the question of what kind of behavior translates into sexual harassment and what the relationship of the parties must be for sexual harassment to occur.
These issues have been fought over at the federal level for many years. Although sexual harassment law is still not clearly defined, there has emerged over the years a consensus of the basic outlines of what sexual harassment is and what needs to be done by companies and other groups to prevent it.