Being the victim of sexual harassment while on the job can make your life miserable, and could even lead you to consider quitting your job. Minnesota workers may find that they experience two different kinds of harassment: quid pro quo harassment and hostile work environment harassment.

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when some decision regarding the worker’s employment, such as a promotion or a raise, becomes contingent upon the worker’s acceptance of his or her employer’s unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors. Moreover, this type of harassment could carry the threat of demotion or job termination.

Hostile work environment, on the other hand, occurs when supervisors, co-workers or others make the workplace environment offensive, hostile or intimidating. For example, discussing sexual activities, touching inappropriately, making comments on a worker’s physical attributes, or displaying sexually suggestive pictures, may constitute a hostile work environment.

For harassment to violate the law, it must be unwelcomed and based on the person’s gender or other protected status. Secondly, it must be abusive to the worker and be severe and pervasive enough to make the workplace hostile or abusive based upon a reasonable person’s opinion.

This is decided on a case-by-case basis. For example, the frequency and severity of the harassment, whether the actions were threatening or humiliating, whether the actions unreasonably interfered with the victim’s ability to do his or her job and whether the instigator of the harassment was the victim’s superior may all be factors in determining whether a hostile work environment existed.

If a person is being sexually harassed at work, he or she should consider speaking to an attorney. An attorney could help the worker evaluate his or her situation to determine if seeking legal action is an appropriate response or whether other steps should be taken first. Those who are victims of harassment should make sure that they do not accept the behavior but instead take action against it.