Employers are obligated to provide a working environment that is safe for their employees. This safe environment includes one that is free of sexual harassment. It is vital for employers to prevent sexual harassment by providing training against sexual harassment and having an effective complaint process.
Do you actually know, however, what exactly counts as sexual harassment at work? As a general rule, offhand comments, isolated incidents, and teasing are not sexual harassment by legal standards. If the incidents created a hostile or offensive work environment, however, you are allowed to file a complaint about sexual harassment.
What is Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment can be female-to-female, male-to-female, male-to-male, or female-to-male and includes requests for sexual favors, physical and verbal harassment that is sexual in nature, and remarks about a person’s gender that are inappropriate. Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination that is prohibited under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Types of sexual harassment include the following:
- Verbal Harassment: This type of harassment can come in many forms. It may include sexual comments, making catcalls and wolf whistles, insisting on a date with someone that has already refused, telling sexual jokes, or spreading rumors about the sex life of a person. While some of these things may seem harmless, if they are unwelcome, offensive, and create a hostile work environment, they may be considered sexual harassment.
- Nonverbal Harassment: Some behaviors that are not verbal can be considered harassment, too. These things include making body movements or suggestive gestures, looking up and down at someone, staring at someone, following a person or blocking their way, and winking or making other suggestive facial gestures. These nonverbal behaviors can create an uncomfortable work environment and can be intimidating to some people.
- Physical Harassment: These violations can, in some instances, be very serious. Physical harassment may include physical advances, unwelcome sexual advances, assault, and rape. This may also include standing too close to a person without their consent, hugging or kissing a person without permission, and even touching someone’s clothing or body. Whether subtle or violent in nature, physical harassment threatens the comfort and safety of the victim.
- Quid Pro Quo Harassment: This type of harassment is specific to a workplace and involves situations in which employment decisions are directly tied to the denial or expectation of sexual favors. For example, a manager tells another employee that he or she must consent to sex to receive a pay raise.
- Hostile Work Environment Harassment: This occurs when a workplace becomes intimidating or offensive. For example, making crude and repeated sexual comments in front of another employee.
Stopping Workplace Sexual Harassment
Filing a lawsuit immediately is not always the best answer. If you have gone through the proper channels and still feel you are being harassed at work, you need to seek the assistance of an experienced attorney. The Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline is dedicated to protecting the rights of all clients. If you have been sexually harassed at work, Attorney Kline will help you seek justice by filing a complaint. Contact his office today to schedule a consultation.