What are the Sexual Harassment Behaviors?
What Kinds of Behaviors Are Considered Sexual Harassment
Today's workplace is filled with sexual harassment in many forms.
A 2016 study by EEOC found that 75% of workplace harassment victims fail to report it to their supervisors, managers, or union representatives. Employees fear they will face retaliation at work, which is a major reason. Another reason for underreporting could be that employees who are subject to inappropriate behavior don't know when it becomes illegal harassment.
Sexual harassment can take on subtler forms in today's society. Instead of being propositioned to sex or slapped on your rear end, victims might get suggestive late-night images or texts, unwelcome sexually charged comments, or invitations for meetings that turn into dates. Nowadays, sexual harassment can also happen via emails, social media or other venues.
What is Sexual Harassment?
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act makes workplace sexual harassment illegal. Title VII applies to employers who have 15 or more employees and outlaws two types of sexual harassment.
- Quid pro quo harassment: This is when a supervisor asks for sexual favors or other sexual conduct that results in a tangible job action. You might hear, "I'll give the promotion if you sleep with me" or "I will fire you unless I take you out."
- Work environment that is supportive: This is when an employee is exposed to unwanted physical or verbal conduct of sexual nature that is so severe and pervasive as not to be tolerated or to create an abusive work environment.
Although quid pro quo harassment can be easily detected, claims of hostile work environments may be more difficult to spot. What are the types of harassment? What is considered harassment? Below are some guidelines.
Different types of inappropriate conduct
Unwanted kissing, touching of breasts and genitals at work, butt slapping or rape, requests for sexual favors (making sexually explicit comments), uninvited massages, suggestive gestures, catcalls, or cornering someone in tight spaces are all examples of workplace sexual harassment.
Although sexual harassment is still a common occurrence in the workplace, subtler forms of harassment are increasing. If they occur enough often or are severe enough that employees feel uncomfortable, intimidated, or distracted, then this can be considered sexual harassment.
- Employees are often complimented on their appearance.
- Commenting on the attractiveness and sexiness of other employees in front of an employee
- Discussing one's sexual life with an employee
- Ask an employee about his/her sex life
- Circulating nude photos, or photos of women wearing bikinis or shirtless men at work
- Making sexual jokes
- Sending sexually suggestive emails or text messages
- Unwanted gifts of a sexual and romantic nature can be left behind
- Spreading sexual rumors about an employer, or
- Repeated hugs and unwelcome touching (such as a hand on an employee’s back)
A hostile work environment must be offensive to both the employee and to anyone else who is living in similar circumstances. A male employee may compliment a female employee's haircut and open the door for her when she walks into work. But, most people wouldn't think that this behavior alone would be enough to make harassment a serious issue.
Here's an example of how one could create hostile work environments.
Example: Elena is an executive assistant. Aaron, her boss, often asks Elena to come along for dinner with him after work to go over his schedule and other items. When Aaron asks Elena about her sexual preferences and dating history, these conversations quickly become personal. Elena notices Aaron looking at her during work hours. Late-night texts from Aaron to Elena tell her that he likes what she wore to work or that he cannot stop thinking about her. Aaron is known to stop by Elena's office when everyone has gone home for the day, complaining about his sex life. Elena makes it very clear that Aaron's behavior is inappropriate and attempts to getaway. But, Aaron stands at the doorway saying that he needs someone to be kind to him. Over the course of several months, Aaron's unwelcome attention and sexual conduct escalate.
Additional Facts about Sexual Harassment
These are other facts about sexual harassment to be aware of:
- Harassment can also come from sexist remarks and actions.It is common to believe that harassment must be sexual in order for it to be considered illegal. Title VII makes it illegal to harass employees based on their gender. It also makes it illegal to create an abusive work environment. A hostile workplace could be caused by women being told they must be more feminine or conform to gender stereotypes. They are also excluded from important meetings and their work is sabotaged.
- Customers and clients may harass sexually. Most people know that sexual harassment by coworkers or managers is illegal. Title VII states that employers have a duty to their employees against sexual harassment by outsiders. Customers, vendors, business partners, customers, and others are all subject to this obligation. Employers must act to stop harassment as long as they know or should know about it.
- Sexual harassment is not limited to one gender. When people think about sexual harassment, they tend to think of a male harassing another woman. This is still the most common scenario. However, there have been many instances of males harassing females. It is also illegal to harass a woman against a man or vice versa. Harassment does not have to be motivated by sexual desire. It doesn't have to be motivated by sexual desire.
There are steps you can take to protect yourself if you feel you have been subject to sexual harassment at work. Learn more about sexual harassment at work - employeelawoffice