There are generally two types of sexual harassment that workers should watch out for. They should also know that they are protected from sexual harassment and have the right to a safe workplace where they do not have to worry about sexual harassment.
Hostile work environment sexual harassment
This blog has previously discussed some aspects of this category of sexual harassment. This refers to when an environment of sexual harassment is created that is so pervasive that it creates a hostile workplace environment for victims. It can be created through the presence of demeaning sexual comments or demeaning sexual materials, such as sexual photographs, or demeaning sexual jokes or threats. The objectionable conduct must be so pervasive that it creates an intimidating or offensive work environment.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment
This type of sexual harassment refers to when a supervisor or person in a position of authority over the worker requests sex or a sexual relationship in exchange for refraining from punishing the worker or in exchange for providing some type of benefit to the worker. Examples of punishments could include cutting or changing the worker’s hours, demoting the worker, refusing to promote the worker or firing the worker. Examples of benefits could include promotions, raises or other fringe benefits being extended to the worker.
Dealing with sexual harassment
The presence of any type of sexual harassment in the workplace can put the worker in a difficult and compromising position. Whether an employer is sharing inappropriate sexual materials with the worker or requesting sexual favors in exchange for a promotion, workers are protected by employment law from these behaviors in the workplace. Victims should know that they do not have to tolerate these behaviors and what they can do about them.