Victims who believe they may be suffering sexual harassment in the workplace may wonder what constitutes sexual harassment. There are two primary categories of sexual harassment recognized in the workplace and victims have legal recourse options if they have been subjected to sexual harassment. Sexual harassment is considered a form of discrimination under federal law and, in addition, states typically have their own sexual harassment laws which are important to be familiar with.
According to the United States Equal Opportunity Employment Commission, sexual harassment in the workplace is defined as unwelcome sexual advances or sexual conduct which unreasonably interferes with the performance of the victim's job or that creates a hostile work environment. There are generally two types of sexual harassment. The first type is referred to as quid pro quo sexual harassment and the second type of sexual harassment is referred to as creating a hostile work environment.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when a party in a position of authority requires that a subordinate tolerate sexual harassment in exchange for obtaining a job benefit or maintaining a job benefit. A hostile work environment is created when there is a pattern of sexual harassment in the workplace. When determining whether or not a hostile workplace has been created, different factors are considered including the nature of the conduct; the frequency of the conduct; the hostility or patently offensive nature of the conduct; the position of the harasser such as a superior; and a couple of additional factors.
The presence of sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious concern which is why the legal process provides protections for victims of workplace harassment. It is important that victims of sexual harassment realize that they do not have to continue to suffer and that legal options, resources and remedies may be available to them.
Source: Emlployment.findlaw.com, "Sexual Harassment in the Workplace," Alexander Nguyen, Nov. 16, 2015