In sexual harassment cases brought under federal law, the victim can ask the court to hold her employer accountable for harassment by her supervisor. The United States Supreme Court in the cases of Faragher v. Boca Raton and Burlington Industries v. Ellerth decided that, under these circumstances, the employer can avoid liability if it can show that it exercised reasonable care to prevent and correct any sexually harassing behavior, and that the plaintiff unreasonably failed to take advantage of any preventative or corrective opportunities provided by the employer. This created what has become known as the Faragher / Ellerth defense.
Not only is sexual harassment illegal. The law also prohibits:
- Racial harassment
- Religious harassment
- Age-based harassment
- Harassment based on disability
- Harassment based on ethnicity or national origin