Sexual harassment takes many forms, but in the broadest of terms, any unwanted and/or unwelcome sexual comments, advances, or conduct in the workplace constitutes sexual harassment. While it can be sexual in nature, this type of harassment can also be based on one’s actual or perceived gender, gender identity, gender expression, sexual orientation, or transgender status.
Quid Pro Quo: With quid pro quo sexual harassment, the terms of the individual’s employment are conditional on the individual accepting unwanted sexual comments, advances, and other related conduct. Typically, quid pro quo sexual harassment involves a superior or another party who has some control over an employee’s job, work-related duties, pay, opportunities, career advancement, or other benefits.
Hostile Work Environment: Hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs when inappropriate and unwelcome sexual conduct or overtures within the workplace cause an employee to feel significant stress and/or discomfort. To be considered a “hostile work environment,” the conduct must generally be consistent, repeated, frequent, and/or ongoing; isolated incidents typically do not qualify as creating a hostile work environment.
In both cases, sexual harassment can be obvious and direct. But far more often, it is more subtle and difficult to detect. A boss may not directly state that an employee’s promotion is tied to whether or not they agree to sexual favors but instead may imply that, if the employee responds negatively to unwelcome sexual advances, they will be unable to advance within the company. An employer may foster a hostile work environment by laughing off an employee’s complaint about a co-worker’s frequent sexual jokes or behavior.
Though they are less obvious than outright sexual assault, these and other examples of subtle sexual harassment are still wrong and unlawful.
Absolutely not. Any individual who identifies as any sex or gender can be either a victim or a perpetrator of sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is about one person trying to exert their power over another regardless of gender and other characteristics.
Yes, you can. Sexual harassment claims are based on unwanted, non-consensual sexual remarks and other such behaviors. If you feel as though you are being harassed, contact a local sexual harassment lawyer as soon as possible to learn more about your legal rights. No one deserves to be harassed regardless of their past or current relationship with the harasser.
It may be. For example, if your supervisor scolds you for not dressing according to your position’s dress or safety codes, this is likely not sexual harassment. If, however, you have a colleague or supervisor who has commented on your attire or appearance, especially when they would have no reason to, it might be sexual harassment. An attorney can help you determine whether you have grounds for a sexual harassment case during a free consultation.