Where we work should be a safe place where we can focus on our tasks and goals. Unfortunately, not every workplace offers a safe environment for you to focus on your career. In some cases, employees have to deal with sexual harassment. However, it is often hard to understand if what you are experiencing at your workplace is sexual harassment or simply a toxic work environment. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines two types of sexual harassment. The first type is “quid pro quo” and the second type is a “hostile work environment.”

What Is “Quid Pro Quo”?

Quid pro quo is what most people think about when they think of sexual harassment in the workplace. It is the exchange of benefits like a promotion or pay in trade for sexual favors. A more common type of quid pro quo though is the threat of termination or demotion if you do not offer sexual favors. A good example of a quid pro quo situation would be a manager threatening an assistant with termination if they did not sleep with them. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is usually perpetrated by somebody in a position of power against somebody with less power.

What Is A “Hostile Work Environment”?

The other form of workplace sexual harassment is a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment is where individuals engage in inappropriate and intimidating behaviors. This can range from making sexually explicit comments to physically touching people to demeaning sexual behavior. The perpetrators in a hostile work environment can be anyone from coworkers to customers to vendors. In a hostile work environment, these behaviors are so severe that they stand in the way of an individual’s productivity. A good example of a hostile work environment is working with a coworker that constantly makes sexual jokes, sexual comments, or engages in non-consensual touching especially of a sexual nature. Your co-workers’ behaviors are so inappropriate, unprofessional, and threatening that you no longer feel safe doing your job.

Who Can Experience Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment in the workplace can be experienced by anyone. The victim does not have to be a specific gender or sexual orientation. This is also true for the perpetrator of sexual harassment. Anyone associated with the workplace can be sexually harassed or a sexual harasser. Further, a person does not have to be the direct victim of sexual harassment to be impacted by sexual harassment negatively. Finally, the victim does not have to have lost their jobs, been demoted, or suffered any other kind of tangible economic injury to experience sexual harassment. Anyone who’s experienced sexual harassment in the workplace whether quid pro quo or a hostile work environment has the right to a safe workplace.

What To Do If You Are Being Sexually Harassed In The Workplace?

If you were experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, the first thing you need to do is report the situation to human resources. If human resources does not take the steps to provide you with a safe work environment, then you need to speak with an attorney. An attorney will review your situation and help you determine if what you were experiencing is sexual harassment or a toxic work environment.

If you or one of your co-workers is experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace and your organization is not doing anything to stop it, give the team at Justice Pays a call at 1-833-954-1234. we’ll review your case for free and help advise you on your next steps. No one should ever feel unsafe in their workplace and we are here to fight to make sure that the rights of victims are protected.