When it comes to sexual harassment in the workplace, there are two basic categories recognized by law: Quid pro quo, which involves the direct treatment of an employee by a supervisor, and the sexually hostile work environment. These two categories cover a comprehensive list of unfavorable conditions and behaviors.
Learning to recognize the various forms of sexual harassment is the best way to keep yourself protected.
1. Explicit Sexual Comments
If you are being talked to explicitly about subject that are a sexual nature and it makes you uncomfortable, this is considered harassment. This can involve talking about sex, sexual acts, or even gender-related jokes that some may find humorous, but are offensive to you as a man or woman.
2. Unwanted Sexual Advances
A coworker asked you daily to go out on a date or consistently pursues you even though you have made it known you are not interested. This is considered sexual harassment and should be reported right away. In the workplace, anything pushed beyond the limits of the initial response is deemed inappropriate.
3. Sexual Advances Related to Business Opportunities
Your boss tells you that if you will perform certain favors or spend time with him or her, then you are sure to get that desirable position or pay raise. This falls in the category of Quid pro quo sexual harassment and is completely uncalled for and against the law. You should never be offered a position at work based on some type of sexually-oriented premise.
4. Obscene Gestures
Sexual harassment can come in the form of someone not even saying a word, but using their body language to make obscene gestures directed at you or another employee. This type of behavior is absolutely unacceptable and should be reported to a superior or sexual harassment attorney.
5. Visual Imagery That is Sexually Degrading or Offensive
You work in an office full of men who insist on keeping the latest bikini clad calendar on the wall. If you are a female, this could be offensive and suggestive to you and is an indirect form of sexual harassment. Relatively any visual imagery that is sexually degrading or suggestive in nature has no place in a business environment.
6. Inappropriate Physical Contact
Touching of any form, whether it is hugging, caressing, or all out offensive grabs, is considered sexual harassment. It is best for physical contact of any kind, beyond a simple handshake, be checked at the time-clock when an employee comes into work for the day.
In the event you feel like you are in a hostile work environment or could be dealing with a quid pro quo case, it is imperative that you talk to a sexual harassment attorney right away. Some of the most seemingly basic forms of harassment can lead to a host of issues with your job or even assault. Therefore, acting quickly is protecting your own physical and emotional well-being.