Sexual harassment is a violation of state and federal laws.Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that occurs when an individual makes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment occurs "when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment" The harasser can be a supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker or a non-employee. The harasser also can be the same gender as the victim.
Sexual harassment can happen to anyone.Studies suggest that 40-70% of women and 10-20% of men have been victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.
State law expressly requires that every Rhode Island employer which employs 50 or more employees shall "[a]dopt a policy against sexual harassment -[and] [p]rovide to all employees a written copy of the employer's policy..." Section 28-51-2 of the General Laws of Rhode Island.
The prohibition against sexual harassment does not only apply to employers. It also applies to labor organizations, employment agencies and those who aid and abet an unlawful employment practice.