sexual harassment at work, office woman and her lustful boss
  • Posted By Sirmabekian
  • 2022

In modern times, sexual harassment in the workplace is often subtle. Rather than direct sexual propositions or physical touching, the victim might get text messages or images which are suggestive, or they are tricked into attending a meeting that transforms into a date. It may also occur through social media or email.

How Is Sexual Harassment Defined?

Employment-based sexual harassment is listed under Title 7 within the Civil Rights Act and can be applied to businesses that have fifteen employees or more. It specifically lists 2 forms of sexual-based harassment, which are:

  • Hostile employment environment: In such an environment, employees might be exposed to verbal or physical contact which is not welcome and is so severe that the employees feel violated and abused.
  • Quid pro quo harassment: This is a scenario where employees are expected to provide sexual favors in order to advance in the organization. While some employers might outright fire employees who refuse to go on dates or provide sexual favors, in other situations they will be allowed to continue working for the company but will be passed over for promotions, raises, or other perks.

Which Forms of Conduct Are Inappropriate?

Before you can pursue legal action, it is important to know which forms of conduct could be described as being inappropriate. While some are obvious, such as unwanted touching, as stated previously, many incidents of sexual harassment today are subtle, because most employers are well aware of the legal ramifications of doing anything too overt. Examples of subtle yet inappropriate conduct include:

  • Making repeated compliments involving the appearance of an employee
  • Talking about the attractiveness of an employee in front of other employees
  • Asking employees about their sex life
  • Passing around nude images of males or females within the work environment
  • Talking about one’s personal sex life or making lewd jokes
  • Leaving gifts for an employee which are unwanted and or romantic in nature
  • Sending emails or text messages which are sexually explicit
  • Spreading rumors about another employee which are sexual in nature

To classify a work environment as being hostile, not only must the conduct offend the employee who is the recipient of it, but other employees who are witnesses to it. For instance, a female worker might genuinely be offended that one of her male co-workers complimented her new hairdo and then opened an entrance for her. However, the majority of people wouldn’t consider this conduct to be anything out of the ordinary, including most other co-workers.

Sexism Is Also Harassment

Aside from direct or indirect sexual propositions, sexism can also make a work environment hostile for employees. An example of this would be an employer telling his female employee to behave more feminine or to conform to specific gender stereotypes, or overlooking her for promotions based on her gender and even sabotaging her work.

Finally, while most cases of workplace sexual harassment involve males harassing females, there are also incidents of females harassing males and same gender harassment. No matter who’s doing it, it is illegal and can be grounds for litigation.

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