The law prohibits harassment of an applicant or employee on the basis of his or her gender. Gender harassment occurs when there is unwelcome verbal or physical conduct directed at the applicant or employee because of that individual’s gender that has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment or has the purpose or effect of substantially interfering with that individual’s work performance.
“Substantial interference with an employee’s work performance or creation of an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment” means that the conduct has to be such that a reasonable person under the same circumstances as the employee would consider the conduct sufficiently severe or pervasive to interfere substantially with the person’s work performance or to create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment.
It is unnecessary that an action have a sexual component in order to be considered sexual harassment. Title VII and the Wisconsin Fair Employment Act (WFEA) prohibit engaging in gender harassment; consisting of unwelcome verbal or physical conduct of any kind directed at an individual because of that individual’s gender.
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