What Is Sexual Harassment?

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What Is Sexual Harassment?

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that violates Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) http://www.eeoc.gov/eeoc/publications/fs-sex.cfm states the following:

"Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment when submission to or rejection of this conduct 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."

Sexual Harassment Guidelines

Many different people can be affected by sexual harassment. Note the following groups that can be affected by sexual harassment:

  1. The victim or harasser can be male or female.
  2. The victim can be the same sex as or opposite sex from the harasser.
  3. The victim can be anyone affected by sexual harassment, not only the person being targeted by the harasser.

The common scenario is that the harasser is the victim's supervisor, but that is not the only possible scenario. The harasser can also be:

  1. A co-worker.
  2. A company contractor.
  3. A non-employee. This can be someone who is working on company property as a contractor, vendor, or other non-employee capacity.

The most important deciding factor of harassment is that the behavior must be unwelcome.

Main Categories of Sexual Harassment

There are two main categories of sexual harassment:

  1. Quid pro quo
  2. Hostile work environment

Quid Pro Quo

Quid pro quo translates to "this for that." The harasser wants sexual favors in return for the victim keeping a job, or other career related benefit.

In this category, typically the harasser is the victim's supervisor or someone in a position of power. The victim is forced to tolerate sexual harassment for fear of losing a job, or in order to obtain a raise or promotion. This can be a single occurrence if it is severe or a repeated behavior, no matter how minor.

Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment can be defined by many possible scenarios. Generally, a hostile work environment is when harassment behavior interferes with employee work performance or creates an abusive or offensive atmosphere.

In this category, there is typically a repeated behavior that may start off small and harmless but builds to an intolerable situation. A behavior can be severe enough to create a hostile work environment after only a single occurrence.

The harasser can be:

  1. A co-worker
  2. A supervisor
  3. A group.

The harassment can be:

  1. Verbal
  2. Physical
  3. Both verbal and physical.