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Overview of State and Federal Law on Sexual Harassment

NCJ Number
Date Published
32 pages
This staff brief presents an overview of Wisconsin's employment discrimination law as it specifically relates to sexual harassment, describes other State statutory provisions relating to sexual harassment and related proposals recently considered by the Wisconsin Legislature, and reviews Federal law and administrative and court interpretations of the law on sexual harassment as well as selected laws and legislation in other states.
Wisconsin's Fair Employment Law prohibits employment discrimination based on sex. Under the Fair Employment Law, any employer, labor organization, employment agency, licensing agency, or other person is prohibited from engaging in sexual harassment; from implicitly or explicitly making or permiting acquiescence in, or submission to, sexual harassment as a term or condition of employment on the basis, or any part of the basis, for any employment decisions affecting that employee; and from allowing sexual harassment to substantially interfere with an employee's work performance or to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. Wisconsin's Department of Industry, Labor, and Human Relations is authorized to receive and investigate a complaint regarding employment discrimination constituting sexual harassment. The body of Federal law which relates to sexual harassment is found in the Federal Fair Employment Law, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), and the Federal courts. Due to the fact that the law set forth in Federal statutes is minimal, the EEOC and the courts play a large role in establishing the law pertaining to sexual harassment.