Work colleagues spend a lot of time together on the job, and friendly relationships can develop. Still, some workers or supervisors take this one step to far and start to make sexual advances on other workers. This can be considered sexual harassment.
What is sexual harassment?
While some isolated incidents of sexual harassment may not be legally actionable, others are. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, unlawful sexual harassment takes place when a worker makes unwanted sexual comments, requests or conduct towards another worker, and the harassed worker suffers an adverse employment decision for fighting the harassment or a hostile work environment results from the harassment.
Sexual harassment in the workplace violates the law. A worker subjected to sexual harassment can file a complaint with the EEOC.
The employer can be found liable for the harasser’s actions, especially if they failed to promptly address the situation and stop the harassment.
What is quid pro quo harassment?
Quid pro quo harassment is a specific type of sexual harassment.
Quid pro quo harassment takes place when a worker’s supervisor imposes sexual advances on the worker in exchange for job benefits or under the threat of adverse employment actions.
These benefits might be a raise or a promotion. The threats may include demotion or even job loss.
Only supervisors can instigate quid pro quo harassment. This is because only they have the power to confer job benefits or take away job benefits.
Quid pro quo harassment can even take place if the harassed worker eventually gives in to the supervisor’s actions, as long as the advances are unwelcome, and the worker does not really want to go forward with the sexual act or favor.
Stopping sexual harassment in the workplace
Employees have rights if they are sexually harassed in the workplace, whether it is conventional harassment or quid pro quo harassment. Employers can take steps to prevent sexual harassment in the workplace. This can protect them from liability and can protect their workers from sexual harassment.