Being sexually harassed at work is something that no employee should ever have to tolerate. Sexual harassment can have a significant emotional, physical and financial impact on a victim. It is important to know how to identify workplace sexual harassment at your job, as well as what to do about it. If you are being sexually harassed, contact the attorneys at DRZ Law for legal advice.
What Is Workplace Sexual Harassment?
According to the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment refers to harassing behaviors based on a person’s sex. It can be sexual in nature, such as inappropriate touching. However, it does not have to be. Sexual harassment can also be based on sex, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or relationship status. Harassment can include verbal or physical harassment, unwelcome sexual advances, and requests for sexual favors.
There are two types of workplace sexual harassment:
- Quid pro quo: also known as “this for that” sexual harassment, quid pro quo means that a victim is offered employment benefits or other perks in exchange for sexual favors. It may also be a blackmail situation, where a perpetrator offers not to do something harmful as long as the victim complies with a sexual request.
- Hostile work environment: if a pattern or workplace culture of harassment is so continuous as to create a work environment where a victim does not feel safe, welcomed or productive, it is a hostile work environment. This can involve ongoing offensive comments, jokes, actions or behaviors by one or multiple people in the office.
Workplace sexual harassment can be by a man against a woman, a woman against a man, or between two people of the same sex in the office. While simple teasing or an offhand remark may not constitute sexual harassment, a pattern of harassing behaviors or a serious isolated incident is often grounds for legal action in Kansas.
Signs of Workplace Sexual Harassment
It is not always easy to identify sexual harassment in the workplace. Not all examples of sexual harassment are blatant or obvious; some are more difficult to detect. If you suspect sexual harassment at work, you need to take immediate action to protect yourself. Common signs of workplace sexual harassment include:
- Requests to engage in sexual activity from someone at work
- Unwelcome or inappropriate touching
- Invasions of your personal space
- Groping, fondling or sexual assault
- Rape or attempted rape
- Negative comments about men or women as a group
- Inappropriate jokes or comments about sexual orientation
- Discussing sexual relations at work or in inappropriate places
- Exposure of sexual organs in the workplace
- Receiving unsolicited sexually explicit content on your computer or phone
- A job being contingent on sexual consent, either implicitly or explicitly
If someone at work made you feel uncomfortable by saying or doing something sexually inappropriate, or made you feel unwelcome based on your sex or another protected class, you are a victim of sexual harassment. Once physical touching is involved, it can escalate into sexual assault. In both cases, you have legal rights as a victim.
How to Deal With Sexual Harassment at Work
If you are sexually harassed at work, report it to your employer or the human resources department right away. Your workplace should have a protocol in place for reporting. If your employer fails to take immediate remedial action, you can file a complaint with the EEOC for a federal agent to investigate and potentially intervene.
In the meantime, get medical care for any physical injuries you sustained and counseling for emotional harm suffered. Document each incident of sexual harassment in detail. Then, take your case to a workplace sexual harassment lawyer for a free consultation. You may be entitled to financial compensation for the damages that you suffered due to workplace sexual harassment.