How is Sexual Orientation Defined?
Sexual orientation, under the Wisconsin Fair Employment Law, is defined as having a preference for heterosexuality, homosexuality or bisexuality, having a history of a preference, or being identified with a preference.
What is Sexual Orientation Harassment?
In Wisconsin, the law prohibits harassment because of an individual’s sexual orientation. Sexual orientation harassment occurs when offensive comments are being made by someone in the workplace about another employee’s actual or perceived sexual orientation. Sexual orientation harassment can become unlawful when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile work environment. This means the behavior must be more than a few isolated incidents or comments. It must be a pattern of abuse, based on actual or assumed sexual orientation, severe enough to interfere with an employee’s work.
Who Can Be the Harasser?
Everyone. The harasser can be a supervisor or boss, a supervisor or boss from another department, a co-worker, or even someone who does not work for the company. It is still harassment if a client, customer, or vendor, who spends time at the workplace, is the one making offensive, disrespectful, or hurtful comments about an employee’s sexual orientation. Employer knowledge is often key in these types of cases.
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