The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the agency responsible for enforcing laws against workplace discrimination, including sexual harassment. It defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors or other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature” in the workplace. Sexual harassment can take place between the victim and a superior, supervisor, co-worker, or non-employee, such as a client or customer. Perpetrators can be both male and female, and the victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
According to the EEOC, simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents are not recognized as sexual harassment. To constitute illegal sexual harassment, the conduct must be severe or pervasive, often indicated by a pattern of behavior. There are two types of illegal sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile or offensive work environment.