Sexual harassment is prevalent in the workplace. In fact, one out of three women say they've been harassed while on the job. What's more, many women are being harassed without even realizing it because most people recognize only blatant forms of sexual harassment while mild forms go unnoticed. If you believe you've been a victim of sexual harassment, you need to take action. If you're not sure, consider the following about sexual harassment in the workplace.
The Law Recognizes Two Forms of Sexual Harassment
The law recognizes two forms of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and a hostile work environment. Quid pro quo cases are the most blatant. In this scenario, a person in a position of authority requests or requires sexual favors in exchange for work-related rewards and benefits, such as promotions, raises, not getting fired, etc. Hostile work environment scenarios can be much more complex because their not always recognizable right away. These cases involve anything that creates an offensive or intimidating work environment.
Sexual Harassment Is Not Always Physical
Sexual harassment can involve unwanted advances and uninvited physical contact, but it doesn't always have to. More than 80 percent of women say they've been harassed verbally at work, which constitutes as sexual harassment. Other forms of harassment include sharing sexually explicit photos, making sexual noises, whistling suggestively, asking questions about sexual history or identity, sending unwanted love notes and more.
Anyone Can Be the Victim or the Perpetrator
While that majority of those harassed are women, men can be harassed in the workplace as well. The harasser can be anyone. They don't have to be male, and they don't have to be in charge. Someone can get harassed by a manager, an equal or a subordinate. You can also get harassed by someone of the same sex. There are no guidelines or norms when it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Employers Can Be Held Liable
If you've been harassed in the workplace, your employer may be liable. Your employer has a responsibility to create a comfortable work environment. However, they have to be aware of the situation in order to be able to address it, and the court recognizes this. If your employer knew, endorsed or ignored harassment, they could be in big trouble.
As you can see, there are many forms of sexual harassment. If you're unsure whether your experience rises to the level of harassment, talk to a sexual harassment attorney or your human resources department today.