Employees should feel safe and respected in the workplace as they complete their duties. Unfortunately, some people may experience harassment at work that makes them feel uncomfortable and violated.
Two types of sexual harassment that can occur in the workplace are quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
What is quid pro quo harassment?
Quid pro quo (“this for that”) harassment happens when you receive a job benefit or threats of negative work consequences in exchange for sexual favors. For example, a manager might suggest that you can get a raise if you go on a date with them.
What constitutes a hostile work environment?
A hostile work environment happens when you experience unwelcome and continuous behavior that creates an offensive or intimidating workplace atmosphere. This can include offensive comments or jokes, inappropriate physical contact or unwanted sexual advances. The behavior has to be severe or pervasive enough to establish a hostile work environment.
An example of a hostile work environment is if a coworker constantly makes unwanted sexual advances or comments towards you that interfere with your work and life.
When do I have a case?
To determine if you have a case under one of these types of harassment, you should first document the behavior. Using a non-work email, phone app or journal, make detailed notes about the date, time and incident. It is also crucial to report the behavior to a supervisor and human resources department, who have the responsibility of investigating the incident and taking appropriate action.
If the harassment continues without a resolution from your company or you face retaliation because you reported the behavior, you likely have a case and may need to take legal action.
Overall, both types of sexual harassment can have severe consequences for you and the organization.