Types of Harassment
Being able to identify sexual harassment when it happens to you is important because you have the right to be treated fairly at work and to work in an environment that is free from sexual harassment. Understanding what sexual harassment is will enable you to avoid it and to do something about if it happens to you.
There are two main types of sexual harassment:
1. Quid Pro Quo (this for that)
This occurs when a person in a position of authority bases a tangible employment action on the victim’s refusal to comply with a sexual proposition.
An example of quid pro quo harassment is being denied a promotion or given a less desirable work assignment because you refused your boss’s sexual advances.
Alternatively, you may be given a raise or other employment benefit as a reward for fulfilling a sexual request.
Other circumstances that might be indicative of quid pro quo harassment include:
- An employee being asked to discuss a possible raise with his or her supervisor after business hours at a romantic restaurant.
- An employee who appears to have an intimate relationship with the boss and always gets the easier job assignments.
Quid pro quo harassment is more about the harm suffered by the victim than the actions of the offender. Your employer will be automatically liable to you if your supervisor, for example, engages in quid pro quo harassment and denies you an employment benefit or opportunity because you refused to fulfill his or her sexual requests.
2. Hostile Work Environment
This involves behavior that is either severe or pervasive and that unreasonably interferes with your job performance or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.
Some examples of what can create a hostile work environment include:
- Constant ridicule or chauvinism
- Obscene items being displayed
- Posting sexual explicit pictures, calendars, graffiti, or other material
- Regularly using offensive language or making sexual jokes, obscene gestures, and rude comments of a sexual nature
Other situation that may indicate that your are working in a hostile environment include:
- When employees feel free to brings sexually explicit gag gifts to work for each other’s birthdays
- When supervisors, managers, or coworkers regularly engage in inappropriate touching or physical contact with you or other employees
A hostile work environment may be present, whether the offensive behavior is specifically aimed at a certain person or more generalized throughout the workplace. In other words, you may be the victim of sexual harassment even if the behavior is not directed towards you specifically.
Contact an Experienced Employment Law Attorney
Sexual harassment can manifest itself as many different types of behavior and it can be difficult to discern what is sexual harassment from what is not. An experienced employment law attorney can help. If you suspect that you are being sexually harassed at work, contact an reputable employment law attorney to evaluate your case. Most offer a free, no-obligation