Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Understanding the consequences of sexual harassment at work is something every employee should be aware of.

Harassment on the job is a type of discrimination that’s in violation Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The greater number of sexual harassment charges are from women and the number filed by men are increasing significantly according to the (EEOC) Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

What is Sexual Harassment?

The legal definition of sexual harassment by the EEOC is:

"Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment...

...when 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".

Sometimes an employee claiming sexual harassment is the result of getting the wrong impression or a breakdown in communication. A co-worker may think that a certain comment or conduct is fine while another may find it offensive. These types of misunderstandings often lead to a sexual harassment complaint.

sexual harassment at work

Sexual Harassment At Workplace Situations

Misinterpreted situations may result in a workplace sexual harassment claim. The character, integrity and credibility of the individuals involved can be harmed because of misinformation or gossip. Willful false accusations of sexual harassment are becoming more prevalent in the workplace.

Sexual harassment statistics show an alarming increase in false sexual harassment allegations. EEOC information shows workplace sexual harassment being false can and has been used to harm innocent employees for various reasons.

Follow this link for must read info on false sexual harassment claims.

Quid Pro Quo


Hostile Work Environment

Individuals in the workplace should know there are basically two types of sexual harassment.

Quid Pro Quo
This means a manager, supervisor, owner or someone who can make decisions that can affect your employment or what the U.S. Supreme Court ruled as a “tangible employment action”. This individual offers to give or take something of benefit. For example the individual tells the employee “sleep with me or no raise” and then fires the employee for refusing.

Hostile Work Environment
Only a person of management status can invoke quid pro quo. But a hostile work environment can be caused by co-workers, customers, supervisors, people your company does business with and anyone else you have contact with.

sexual harassment at work

Facts about Sexual Harassment

Hostile work environments are created when employees are confronted with unwanted or unsolicited sexual conduct...

...that is adequately severe or pervasive to change the conditions of the employees work experience.

Different types of conduct whether physical, verbal or visual that’s sexual in appearance can cause sexual harassment complaints by creating a gender based hostile work environment.

Here are some examples of hostile work enviroment conduct of a sexual nature.

  • Unwanted or sexually suggestive touching
  • Making sexually suggestive comments about a co-workers body
  • Telling lewd or sexual jokes
  • Staring in a sexually suggestive way
  • Tampering with or destroying the work product of the one being harassed
  • Talking about sexual encounters
  • Sexual posters, pictures, cartoons, emails, pc screensavers

Businesses and organizations are held accountable legally for sexual “quid pro quo” and “hostile work environment” actions by owners, managers and supervisors.

Management officials whose harassment results in a tangible employment action are also liable for harassment of employees by other employees, vendors and customers. This happens if the company knew or should have known and failed to investigate correctly, quickly and take suitable steps to resolve the situation.

What is a "tangible employment action"? The EEOC defines "tangible employment action" as a significant change in employment status. Examples include hiring, firing, promotion, demotion, undesirable reassignment, a decision causing a significant change in benefits, compensation decisions, and work assignment.

Do you know someone that's a victim of sexual harassment at work? If so then TELL A FRIEND about this page below.

Tell a Friend

sexual harassment at work

California Hostile Work Environment

On January 01, 2001 the state of California initiated more help for employees who are victims of harassment sexual or otherwise. The California (FEHA) Fair Employment and Housing Act makes employees personally liable for any harassment covered by the Act. This is in spite of whether the employer knows or should have known about the inappropriate conduct and failed to take necessary and quick steps to stop it. Not knowing…

information on Sexual Harassment…

…and how it creates a hostile work environment has caused many to think sexual harassment cases have to be “sexual” by design. A lot of times the issue isn’t about the action being sexual but is the conduct about the employee’s gender. An example of this would be a manager consistently changing or destroying the work product of a male employee and other male co-workers but not female employees it could be sexual harassment and a hostile work environment.

An employee may sometimes allow inappropriate conduct however; it does not mean that it was “welcome”. Sexual harassment at work may not always begin with a word or deed that is sexual in nature. A sexually hostile work environment is created when unwanted behavior based on gender meets two conditions.

(1) The conduct must be subjectively abusive to whoever is affected.

(2) The conduct must be objectively severe or pervasive enough to create a work environment that a “reasonable” person would find abusive.

The standard of “reasonable person” involves what a reasonable person’s response would be to the same type of conduct. This standard involves the victim’s perception of the unwelcome words and deeds and not some tradition of accepted behavior.

sexual harassment at work

When it comes to the workplace how would the average person…

Define Sexual Harassment?

People have different points of view about what “offensive or unwelcome conduct” is. An employee may not share a co-workers perception of how behavior turns into workplace sexual harassment. What some find humorous and intriguing others see as tasteless and bizarre.

In the end the only perception that matters is the individual who is being subjected to the actions. The behavior must stop if it is received as “unwelcome, undesirable or offensive”.

Effects of Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment at work stories abound everyday. Separating fact from fiction can be a challenge for all involved. Sexual harassment education is the key to understanding how to stop it. Inappropriate behavior of a sexual nature can be extremely uncomfortable for the person being harassed.

Sexual harassment at workplace settings can also corrupt the workplace as a whole. The conflict between the harasser and the harassed can lead to high tension and less productivity among co-workers. A sexual harassment lawsuit is on the horizon for employers that don’t take the proper steps to quickly stop sexual harassment.

sexual harassment at work

The number of sexual harassment cases continues to increase in the workplace. The claim of sexual harassment must be reported before the employer can be held liable for not enforcing its sexual harassment policies. Every one in the workplace should learn what their company’s sexual harassment policy and how to report sexual harassment when it occurs.

Also, when the time comes follow this link to Sexual Harassment Lawyers for legal guidance.

Follow this link for must read info on reporting workplace sexual harassment.

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