3 kinds of workplace sexual harassment that could lead to lawsuits

On Behalf of | May 9, 2024 | Sexual Harassment |

Experiencing workplace sexual harassment can be relatively demoralizing for a worker. They may come to fear arriving for work each day because of the misconduct they endure. In many cases, harassment can potentially have a chilling effect on someone’s career development.

Either the mental health consequences of the harassment affect someone’s job performance or the harassment itself freezes someone out of job opportunities. Workplace sexual harassment comes in many different forms, but the three types of harassment outlined below are among the most common. Workers experiencing any of the following types of misconduct may need to report the matter to their employers and document what happens at work for their own protection.

Quid pro quo harassment

The type of sexual harassment most people picture when discussing the issue is quid pro quo harassment. This type of sexual harassment involves one person using their workplace authority to threaten or coerce someone else into romantic or sexual activities. Quid pro quo harassment could entail asking for sexual favors in return for a promotion or a letter of recommendation. It could also entail threatening someone with career penalties if they decline someone’s advances.

A hostile work environment

Sexual harassment does not necessarily need to involve someone with sexual attraction to another employee. Harassment can also involve workers of the same sex or multiple workers of the opposite sex engaging in abusive conduct toward one employee. A hostile work environment can make someone feel unsafe on the job and may leave others with the impression that accepting abuse is one of the terms of ongoing employment at that organization. If a reasonable person might view the work environment as intimidating or abusive, the worker may be stuck in a hostile work environment.

Customer sexual harassment

Those who work in customer-facing positions are vulnerable to harassment from business patrons. Customers or clients may take flirting too far and could become quite aggressive. They might even assault someone by engaging in unwanted physical contact. Employers generally have a responsibility to protect workers from harassment even when it comes from customers, rather than other employees.

Workers who recognize and document sexual harassment can ask their employer for support. If they do not receive that support, then they may have grounds to file a sexual harassment lawsuit against the company. Taking action can help to protect the worker experiencing harassment and can change the culture of a negligent company.