You hear a lot about sexual harassment in the news these days, and it seems like the tide is shifting away from a society that accepts such behaviors as part of the status quo. However, many people are still unfortunate victims of harassment at their places of work.
According to U.S. News & World Report, both state and federal laws prohibit sexual harassment at work. And when it does occur, workplaces must take the right steps to eliminate the issue.
Types of harassment
According to the law, illegal sexual harassment takes place in one of two ways:
Quid pro quo
In this case, a person with authority over the victim offers a benefit in exchange for unwanted romantic or sexual favors. An example is a supervisor threatening to fire a worker unless they agree to attend a date with the supervisor.
Hostile work environment
With the second kind of harassment, the harasser might not have any leverage or authority over the victim. However, their conduct can contribute to a hostile working environment where the victim constantly feels intimidated and abused.
Examples of harassing and inappropriate behaviors
With quid pro quo, the harasser may constantly ask for dates or sexual favors even after the victim has said no numerous times. In a hostile work environment, sexually charged insults or jokes are the norms. The harasser might call the victim names or share sexually explicit materials without their consent. This usually constitutes a pattern of events that leave the victim feeling anxious and worried about the conduct and its impact on their employment.
What you can do when experiencing harassment
Let the harasser know that the unwanted behaviors and requests must stop. Write down each time harassment takes place, including any witnesses or bystanders. Take this information to your human resources department or manager to make the matter known. From there, your workplace must investigate the issue and develop a solution that benefits you.
Businesses are not allowed to retaliate against employees reporting poor conditions. If the employer takes no further action and the harassment continues, litigation is usually the next step.