What Is Sexual Harassment?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has this to say about sexual harassment:
Harassment can include “sexual harassment” or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex.
They continue on by stating that things like simple teasing and isolated incidents generally aren’t considered sexual harassment unless they are frequent or severe, or result in some kind of adverse employment action. Additionally, it should be noted that sexual harassment can come from many sources. It doesn’t have to be a supervisor or even a coworker. A client or a customer can also be guilty of – or a victim of – sexual harassment. Generally, sexual harassment falls into two categories: hostile work environment and quid pro quo.
Hostile Work Environment
A hostile work environment is when the comments or behaviors of an individual or group of individuals create an environment that is detrimental to the harassed employee, and usually has a negative impact on their ability to perform their work. Hostile work environments can be created by any number of behaviors. Something fairly small, such as minor teasing, can become a hostile work environment if it is experienced frequently enough. On the other end, behavior doesn’t have to be repeated if it is severe enough. Some actions can be disruptive enough to immediately create a hostile work environment.
It can be difficult to pin down “the line” that must be crossed for a situation to qualify as a hostile work environment, which is why it can be helpful to talk to a sexual harassment lawyer. An employment lawyer with a background in sexual harassment will usually be able to discuss your situation and give you advice about whether it would constitute a hostile work environment.
Quid Pro Quo
“Quid pro quo” is a Latin phrase that roughly translates into “something for something”. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is when a supervisor uses an incentive to coerce someone into complying with their sexual advances. Like all forms of sexual harassment, this can manifest itself in many different forms. It could be as blatant as a supervisor saying that they will fire you if you don’t sleep with them, or it could be much more subtle. For example, a supervisor could say that they will make your workload easier if you go on a date with them. While the first example seems a lot more extreme than the second, both of those situations could be considered quid pro quo sexual harassment, especially if the advances are unwanted.
What Can I Do If I’ve Been The Victim Of Sexual Harassment?
One of the first things that many sexual harassment victims do is file a claim with the EEOC. You can definitely do that, and that can be done with or without the assistance of a sexual harassment lawyer. However, an attorney may assist you in the filing with the EEOC and through the entire process, which would ensure all necessary facts to put your claim in its best light are included and would provide help in response to the employer’s evidence and in negotiation. Further, even if the EEOC does not find in your favor, your claims may still be perfectly valid. You will just have to