About Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Learn about what activities are considered sexual harassment in the workplace and how your rights are protected by the MCAD.

Sexual Harassment in the workplace is illegal under the Anti-discrimination laws of Massachusetts as a form of sex discrimination.

The Law

Massachusetts Law prohibits sex discrimination in the workplace, including same-sex sexual harassment. There are two main categories of sexual harassment: "quid pro quo" harassment and "hostile work environment" harassment. 

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Massachusetts law describes Quid Pro Quo harassment as sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct, which the submission or rejection thereof become the basis for employment decisions or a term or condition of employment. 

Hostile Work Environment

Sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature that have the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual's work performance by creating an intimidating, hostile, humiliating or sexually offensive work environment.

Employer Responsibilities

An employer is liable for the sexual harassment of employees by managers and persons with supervisory authority, regardless of whether the employer knows of the conduct. An employer may also be liable for sexual harassment committed by persons without actual or apparent supervisory authority, such as co workers. An employer may also be liable for the sexual harassment of its employees by certain non-employees, such as customers, patients, clients, independent contractors or other acquaintances.

Sexual Harassment Policies

Massachusetts law requires employers with six or more employees to adopt a written policy against sexual harassment. The employer's policy must include notice to employees that sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful and that it is unlawful to retaliate against an employee for filing a complaint of sexual harassment. The policy should also assert the employer's commitment to investigate any complaint of sexual harassment. The Commission has prepared a Model Sexual Harassment Policy and a poster.

Sexual Harassment Training and Education

M.G.L. ch. 151B encourages employers to conduct education and training programs on sexual harassment for all employees on a regular basis.

Additional Resources

Feedback

Tell us what you think