Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII applies to employers with 15 or more employees, including state and local governments. It also applies to employment agencies and to labor organizations, as well as to the federal government.
Several states mandate the display of sexual harassment posters, including Alaska, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, South Dakota and Vermont. In other states, many employers choose to display a poster on sexual harassment prominently in the workplace, as part of their prevention program.
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the EEOC, prevention is the best tool to eliminate sexual harassment in the workplace. Employers are encouraged to take steps necessary to prevent sexual harassment from occurring. They should clearly communicate to employees that sexual harassment will not be tolerated. They can do so by providing sexual harassment training to their employees and by establishing an effective complaint or grievance process and taking immediate and appropriate action when an employee complains.
Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:
The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
It is helpful for the victim to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.
According to Alaska statute, “it is unlawful for an employer to refuse
employment to a person, or to bar a person from employment, or to
discriminate against a person in compensation or in a term, condition, or
privilege of employment because of the person’s race, religion, color, or
national origin, or because of the person’s age, physical or mental
disability, sex, marital status, changes in marital status, pregnancy, or
parenthood when the reasonable demands of the position do not require
distinction on the basis of age, physical or mental disability, sex, marital
status, changes in marital status, pregnancy, or parenthood.”
In Alaska, job discrimination law in the workplace addresses several issues that may come up in employment. I thought it might be a good idea to outline a few as there could be some confusion as to what may be considered plainly unfair treatment and what is actually considered discrimination. An employer cannot fail or refuse to hire or promote any person because of race, color, religion, gender, or national origin. They cannot base hiring policies on stereotypes or general opinions about groups. On the other hand,an
employer does not have to hire or promote anyone who is not qualified.
The law does say that a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise could be based on one or several such factors, but can never be based on race or gender. The law says that people of different races and gender must be treated alike. AK job discrimination law in the workplace can be confusing especially when even the appearance of any impropriety can be construed as discrimination. The Human Rights Commission has its hands full investigating and determining whether discriminatory acts took place. Employers have an especially difficult time. The best way for employers to comply with non-discrimination laws and protect themselves from legal liability is to base all decisions on an individual’s ability.
Because of its unique status of being a remote, rugged land, Alaska takes great pride in protecting its workers and employers. I was looking for information about religious discrimination in the workplace and was pleasantly surprised by how careful Alaska is to maintain the health, safety, and well-being of its residents.
As far as my original search topic of religious discrimination, Alaska appears to be on board with some other states within the United States in that they do not differentiate between state law and federal law. It appears Alaska uses federal guidelines relating to religious discrimination without any additional statutes or applications.
Since I can’t find any specific laws unique to Alaska, I continue my inquiry at the federal level. I finally find some answers in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Title VII simply prohibits workplace discrimination based on “race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.” So that answers the basic question – Can I discriminate based on religion? Apparently not, it seems.
Unfortunately, this doesn’t answer all of my questions so I must dig deeper. I need specifics, which I eventually find. It appears certain things are strictly against the law, such as tying raises or promotions to church attendance or religious affiliation. Others are a little stickier, such as paying union dues if your religion is opposed to doing so. If this is your situation, by the way, you should make an equitable distribution to charity or ask for an itemized fee excluding the objectionable item.
Laws also protect both managers and employees. While managers can’t fire an employee for not converting to a particular religion, employees must bear partial responsibility for finding coverage on religious holidays. You are entitled to taking the day off for religious reasons, but you must do so professionally.
On September 9, 2006 new legislation becomes effective to clarify and streamline the current investigation and hearing procedures of the Alaska Commission on Human Rights. The new law clarifies and streamlines the current investigation and hearing procedures of the commission. The commission has the power to investigate and hold hearings on human rights violation complaints.
Under the new provisions, the commission can order reinstatement of the employees’ position and award back pay but clearly lays out that the Commission does not have the authority to award either “non-economic” damages for emotional distress or punitive damages. As has been the case in the past, persons with complaints of discrimination are permitted to seek damages that include emotional distress or punitive damages in the civil court system. Individuals with complainants must act quickly because the statue of limitations under Alaska law is one year. Federal courts still require that all “administrative actions” be exhausted before accepting discrimination lawsuits.
Under Alaska law when proceedings in the superior court are deferred for a hearing and decision by the commission, the plaintiff may proceed, after the decision of the commission, as an aggrieved party for the purpose of obtaining judicial review whether or not the person was a party to, or complainant in, the commission proceedings.
The Alaska State Commission for Human Rights is the state agency that enforces the Alaska Human Rights Law. The Commission consists of seven persons appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Legislature. The Commission employs a staff and maintains an office in Anchorage. The Commission has statewide powers and accepts complaints from all regions of the state.
The commission staff accepts complaints of discrimination from persons alleging violations of Alaska Human Rights Law, investigates complaints, conciliates violations, and/or dismisses complainants when no violation of Alaska Human Rights Law has occurred.
The Alaska State Commission for Human Rights holds public hearings to consider cases where conciliation efforts have failed and may order back pay and reinstatement to complainants and the elimination of discriminatory practices. It decisions and orders are enforced through the Alaska Courts.
Workers in Alaska are protected from any type of discrimination in the workplace. A worker may not be discriminated against it due to race, religion, sex, age, national origin, or disability. Not only are workers protected, but it is also mandatory to provide employees with their right not to be a victim of discrimination. All workplaces in Alaska must hang Alaska state discrimination posters in a high visibility area of the workplace. This poster must provide all the necessary information about discrimination in the workplace.
A worker who feels he/she has been a victim of discrimination while working for a private employer must file a report with the nearest Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development or with the US Department of Labor. A person working for a public employer who feels he/she is a victim of discrimination can only file the complaint with the Alaska Department of Labor and Workforce Development. All complaints must be filed within thirty days of the incident.
The discrimination complaint will be investigated. If a Compliance Officer finds that someone has been discriminated against, the employer will be notified. A citation will be given to the employer outlining what happened and what must be done to correct the problem. The employer will be given a specific amount of time to correct the problem. The citation must be displayed for at least five days at or near where the violation occurred.
The law provides mandatory penalties for employers who are responsible for discriminatory acts. Employers who realize they have been a part of a violation dealing with discrimination are encouraged. Alaska will provide a consultant to help identify and fix problems in the workplace.
Alaska protects workers from being discriminated against in the workplace. Part of this protection includes the mandatory display of the Alaska state discrimination posters detailing the rights of a worker not to be discriminated against.