What exactly is Sexual Harassment in the Workplace? Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination in the workplace, which violates both state and federal anti-discrimination laws, and can result in severe legal consequences for an employee. This includes firing, discipline, termination, compensation, etc. A number of different behavior can constitute sexual harassment, which can include sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, sexual comments, and other conduct of a sexual nature. The vast majority of employers follow the “guideline” set forth in the OSHA Standards for Sexual Harassment, which is to be taken seriously and not just tolerated.
The most common form of sexual harassment in the workplace is Quid Pro Quo (or “pay for sex”), in which a supervisor or someone else in a position of power persuades an employee to engage in sexual contact with another individual. Another common form of sexual harassment is Hostile Work Environment Harassment, in which an employer bars an employee from entering or remaining within a specific work area, or from doing any work related tasks with other employees. Such an action would also qualify as sexual harassment in the workplace. An example of this is forcing an employee to enter a women’s restroom or forcing a person to remain in an office when requested to use the restroom.
Often times, victims of sexual harassment in the workplace do not report their offenses for a number of reasons. Sometimes, they may believe that their employer will change their mind, or they may believe that their employer has condoned the behavior in some way. In other cases, victims may believe that they should keep quiet because of past incidents in which they have been subjected to sexual advances or harassment. In the recent past, many employers have adopted policies prohibiting sexual harassment in the workplace. Some employers will merely require employees to take a formal notice or understanding of the policy and will not tolerate sexual harassment. In some instances, the employer will suspend or terminate the offending employee.