Find a Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Sexual harassment is one of many forms of illegal sexual discrimination. It is a result of an unfair use of influence, power, or authority by one person over another or the lack of respect for another person. Sexual harassment is any kind of sexual behavior that is unwelcome and/or inappropriate for the work place.

To clarify sexual harassment for employees and employers the United Stated Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has created a basic definition of sexual harassment:

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of 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.

Types of Sexual Harassment

There are two main types of sexual harassment that take happen in the workplace, and each have their own unique characteristics.

Quid pro quo sexual harassment

This type of sexual harassment occurs when an individual's refusal or submission to sexual advances is a condition or adversely affects their employment with a company. There are several factors that distinguish quid pro sexual harassment from other types and include:
  • A single sexual advance may constitute harassment if it is linked to the granting or denial of employment benefits.

  • Courts have held employers strictly liable for quid pro quo sexual harassment initiated by supervisory employees.

  • A subordinate who submits and then changes her or his mind and refuses can still bring quid pro quo sexual harassment charges
  • .

Hostile environment sexual harassment

Hostile environment sexual harassment occurs when unwelcome sexual conduct interferes with an individual's ability to perform the functions of their job. A hostile environment can be created by employers, supervisors, coworkers, customers or even clients. Hostile environment sexual harassment might include:
  • repeated requests for sexual favors

  • demeaning sexual inquiries and vulgarities
    offensive language

  • other verbal or physical conduct of sexual or degrading nature
    sexually offensive, explicit or sexist signs, cartoons, calendars, literature or photographs displayed in plain view

  • offensive and vulgar graffiti

What to do if you're Sexually Harassed at Work

If you feel like you are being sexually harassed at work, there are several things that you can do to protect yourself.
  1. Do not ignore the sexual harassment.

  2. Tell or write the person who's harassing you to stop.

  3. Talk to friends or coworkers that you can trust about what is happening in the workplace.

  4. Inform your employer verbally and in writing about the harassment that is taking place.

  5. Ask for a copy of your employer's sexual harassment policy, and understand your rights.

  6. If nothing happens as a result of the above steps, file a formal complaint and hire the services of an attorney that specializes in sexual harassment cases.

By Chris Saunders           

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