Sexual harassment is generally defined as a type of conduct in the workplace that is sexual in nature and interferes with the performance of an employee’s job. It can include unwelcome sexual advances, lewd comments or even obscene jokes.
Although you may think that an off-color joke or occasional flirtatious teasing by a co-worker is not appropriate for the workplace, it is important to realize that this does not necessarily qualify as a form of sexual harassment. Instead, the United States Equal Opportunity Employment Commission recognizes two different types of sexual harassment: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
Quid pro quo is generally defined as sexual demands made by a person of authority in the workplace that are used as a condition for an employee to keep his or her job, be promoted or even initially hired. A hostile work environment, on the other hand, is usually considered to have occurred if the conduct is long-term or severe enough in nature to create a workplace environment that is considered offensive or abusive, making it impossible for the employee to perform his or her job duties.
While an employee’s first step should always be to simply inform the perpetrator that his or her advances or comments are unwelcome and offensive, he or she may find it necessary to report the individual’s actions to human resources or a supervisor. If the situation is not corrected by management, an employee may then have legal recourse by filing a complaint with the EOCC or through a civil lawsuit. Individuals who are interested in learning more about this legal process can find valuable information on our website. At Bononi Law Group, we can help you understand your rights and legal options.