What counts as sexual harassment?

by | Apr 3, 2020 | Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Everyone deserves to be respected, but unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace is all too common. We often use the term “sexual harassment” without a good understanding of its definition. So, how do you know if what happens to you at work constitutes harassment? Here are some guidelines that help us define it:

Harassment is unlawful and unwelcome

Legally, sexual harassment is unwelcome. There are two types recognized by the law: quid pro quo, which involves a rejection or submission to advances that affects employment, and hostile environment, which is conduct that interferes with one’s job and creates an offensive workplace.

Harassment doesn’t have to be sexual

Sexual harassment is inappropriate treatment of a person because of their sex. Harassment doesn’t have to be sexual in nature but can also be offensive remarks about one’s sex or gender.

Harassment doesn’t have to come from your boss

Harassers can be anyone. Supervisors, subordinates, business partners, co-workers and even customers. Sexual harassment at work doesn’t have to come from your boss or an employee of the company. It can come from those outside the company as well.

Harassment can happen to anyone

You don’t have to be a woman to be sexually harassed. You don’t have to be the opposite sex of the harasser. You don’t even have to be the direct victim to affected.

Examples of sexual harassment

  • Unwanted touching
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Physical sexual assault
  • Implied or outright conditions surrounding employment based on sexual favors
  • Exposing oneself
  • Comments that inappropriately talk about sex, gender or orientation
  • Unwelcome sexual messages or photos

Sexual harassment at work always needs to be addressed. If you are the victim of or have witnessed sexual harassment, you should always talk to your employer or supervisor. Protect yourself and others by reporting inappropriate conduct and get legal assistance.