Learn about the different types of behavior that can be considered sexual harassment

What Qualifies as Sexual Harassment?

There are two main types of sexual harassment, quid pro quo and hostile work environment. Within these two categories there are additional nuances of behavior.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment: This type of sexual harassment involves a person in a position of power requesting sexual favors from a subordinate. Quid pro quo harassment can take the form of sexual bribery or sexual coercion. Sexual bribery involves promising a reward if sexual favors are provided. This reward might be getting hired, getting a promotion, getting a raise, etc. Sexual coercion involves threatening a punishment if sexual favors are not provided. For example, a supervisor may threaten to fire an employee, withhold a promotion, write a negative performance review, etc.

Hostile Work Environment: When harassing behavior interferes with the victim’s ability to do their job, it creates a hostile work environment. Many different types of behavior can contribute to a hostile work environment, but they will mostly fall under the labels of gender harassment or seductive behavior. Gender harassment involves behavior that is insulting or degrading to a particular gender. This can include offensive remarks, gestures, jokes, cartoons, pictures, etc. Seductive behavior involves unwanted and offensive sexual advances. This can include inappropriate touching as well as repeatedly asking someone out for dinner, drinks, or dates. In some cases of offensive touching, seductive behavior can actually rise to the level of sexual assault.

Wanted and Unwanted Behavior

When determining if a behavior is sexual harassment or not, the victim’s attitude—not the perpetrator’s—is what matters. For example, say a manager likes to give his employees neck massages. He may think he is just being friendly and showing his support and appreciation for their hard work. However, they may not welcome the touching. Despite the fact that the neck is not an overtly sexual body part, if an employee finds the massaging offensive it could be considered sexual harassment. If an employee sincerely enjoys the massaging (and doesn’t just feel like they need to pretend to enjoy it to keep their job), then it is not sexual harassment. Flirtation can be handled in a similar way—it is only harassment if the recipient of the flirting finds it offensive.

Have You Been Sexually Harassed at Work?

If you have been the target of sexual harassment at work, the best thing to do would be to simply ask the perpetrator to stop the behavior. However, if this does not work or you do not feel comfortable confronting your harasser, you do have other options. For help documenting and reporting the behavior, consider contacting a sexual harassment attorney. This will also help ensure you are prepared to take any legal action that may be necessary in the future. To learn more, contact The Law Offices of Larry H. Parker at 800-333-0000 now.