What sexual harassment in the workplace looks like

Frank S. Clowney III

Any sexual harassment that occurs in the workplace can make it difficult for workers to feel safe in their workplaces and do their jobs. Because of the impact sexual harassment can have on victims, victims should be familiar with what is considered sexual harassment so they can recognize it and familiarize themselves with protections against it.

Types of sexual harassment in the workplace

Different forms of sexual harassment can all be equally damaging to victims including:

  • Quid pro quo sexual harassment – quid pro quo sexual harassment refers to when a supervisor or someone in the position of authority request sex or a sexual relationship in exchange for favors or for refraining from punitive actions against the employee.
  • Hostile work environment sexual harassment – hostile workplace sexual harassment refers to when behaviors in the workplace create an intimidating or offensive work environment. These behaviors can include demeaning or sexual photographs, jokes or threats.

To be considered sexual harassment, the conduct must be offensive and unwelcome. Sexual harassment also does not require economic injury or that the worker is discharged. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a co-worker or a non-employee. The harasser can be any gender and the victim of sexual harassment can be any gender as well.

Protections against sexual harassment

Employment laws provide protections for victims of sexual harassment regardless of the type of sexual harassment they are experiencing in their workplace. Workers should not have to worry about sexual harassment when they go to work to support their families and should be familiar with the legal resources available to them.