Sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
It consists of unwarranted sexual approaches, requests for sex and other physical and verbal actions of sexual nature.
Sexual harassment can also be described as remarks or comments made about another person’s gender.
Although there are several types of sexual harassment lawsuits, the two common ones are quid pro quo and hostile work environment sexual harassment.
Quid Pro Quo Sexual harassment
Quid pro quo sexual harassment is a situation where a senior employee such as a supervisor or manager asks for sexual favors from his or her juniors in exchange for a job promotion or other employment benefits.
For example, a male supervisor might ask his junior employee to perform sexual activities with him and in return increase her pay or promote her to a higher position.
This form of sexual harassment is different from hostile work environment sexual harassment. This is mainly because it involves asking for something in return for the sexual activity.
Hostile Work Environment Sexual Harassment
This type of sexual harassment happens when an employee of a particular company does any of the following things: makes threatening comments, jokes, or persistent sexual advances that make it difficult for another employee to carry out his or her duties comfortably.
This type of sexual harassment is mainly concerned with the hostile and offensive nature of the act. It seeks to punish employees or workers who harass their colleagues and make the work environment unbearable for them.
Below are some examples of hostile work environment sexual harassment:
- Persistently telling sexual jokes or stories
- Creating pictures, images, dolls, icons or statues that are sexual in nature
- Written communication through email or memos that contain sexual undertones
- Use of discriminatory remarks or insults against other people that are sexual in nature
- Persistently behaving in an inappropriate manner such as groping, rubbing, or touching another person in a sexually suggestive way.
Non-Direct Sexual Harassment
The above-mentioned types of sexual harassment are also called direct sexual harassment. Non-direct sexual harassment involves a third party who is offended by witnessing a sexual harassment act.
For example, when an employee sees a senior employee sexually harassing his or her colleague, such an incident can be categorized as indirect sexual harassment. The third party has a right to launch a lawsuit against the person involved.
Employer Liability in Sexual Harassment Lawsuits
Since it is the responsibility of an employer to provide a conducive environment for employees, employers are often held accountable if their employees or senior staff engage in sexual misconduct.
One of the ways to avoid this is by doing everything within your power to formulate sexual harassment policies and ensuring that they are implemented. In case an employee sues for sexual harassment, both the company and the perpetrator of the sexual crime are culpable before the law.
How Employees Can Stop Sexual Harassment
Besides the employer, employees also have a duty in preventing sexual harassment at the workplace. Below are some of the steps they can take to do that:
- Direct confrontation, while difficult, is the most effective way of dealing with sexual harassment. Allowing a senior employee or co-worker to continue with sexual misbehavior can escalate into a more serious problem.
- If you cannot face the person sexually harassing you directly, find a better way of reporting the incident. For example, you can send an email or memo to the individual and point out that whatever he is doing is not right.
- If that email or memo doesn’t work, then you should raise the matter with a senior employee in the company
- In case you are a member of a union, you can also raise the complaint with them if all the above channels don’t bear any fruit.
In general, sexual harassment is a serious offense throughout the country. Sometimes people fall victim to sexual harassment and don’t understand the right steps to take.
One of the first things you should do in case you are a victim of sexual harassment is find an experienced sex crime lawyer.
A lawyer understands how sexual harassment laws operate. He or she can help you get justice in the shortest timeframe possible.