Types of Sexual Harassment

Federal law prohibits sexual harassment through Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This applies to employers that have 15 or more employees. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as a form of sex discrimination that explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Forms of Harassment

Sexual harassment comes in many forms. It doesn’t have to be physically touching. In fact, it can be any number of unwelcome sexual advances like:

  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Unwanted verbal contact of a sexual nature
  • Direct and indirect threats for sexual activity
  • Sexist and sex-discriminatory comments
  • Sexually offensive comments or jokes
  • Displays of sexually illicit materials or graphic content
  • Unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature
  • Sexual comments meant to offend the victim

It is important that when unwelcome conduct crosses the line and becomes severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment to seek the advice from a qualified employment lawyer experienced in sexual harassment cases for advice and help.

Men and women both are guilty of sexual harassment.  A harasser can be anyone. He or she can be a supervisor, coworker or even a non-employee of the company. Anyone affected by offensive conduct could be eligible for a claim, even if he or she is not a direct victim of sexual harassment.

Specific Types of Sexual Harassment

Even though there are many forms of sexual harassment, according to the EEOC, there are two types that take place in the workplace.

Quid Pro Quo

Quid pro quo sexual harassment typically involves someone in a supervisor-type role. He or she asks or hints at sexual favors in exchange for any type of employment benefit. This could also mean in return for some type of sexual favor the employee would receive more pay, a higher-ranking job, or more seniority within the company.

Hostile Environment

Hostile work environment sexual harassment can consist of intimidating or threatening comments, jokes, and repeated sexual advances that impact the ability of an employee to do his or her job. This type of sexual harassment is more centered on the hostility and offensiveness.

Indirect Harassment

Indirect sexual harassment occurs when a second victim has been offended by auditory or visual conduct. For example, this occurs when a bystander hears something offensive that wasn’t aimed at him or her. This could take place by overhearing a lewd joke, seeing a sexual email or photo. Also, indirect harassment can involve a person witnessing the harassment of someone else.

Free Consultation

If you have experienced sexual harassment in any form in the workplace, you should contact a qualified employment attorney as soon as possible. If the harassment has not stopped after making a formal complaint with your employer, consulting a harassment lawyer is your best option. Your attorney will be able to provide further guidance, help you file a claim with the EEOC, and help you build a case that will put an end to what you have experienced.

Learn More

Sexual Harassment Types

Sexual Harassment Examples

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