Are You a Victim of Workplace Harassment?

When workers in Iowa are considering whether the treatment they are subjected to at work constitutes a violation of the law against harassment, it is important to understand the two kinds of harassment that can take place. While there are subsets with these two types of harassment, the basics are important when determining if the violation met the standard to be a legal violation of the terms of employment and it is possible to file a claim to be compensated. According to the law, there are two kinds of illegal harassment. They are “quid pro quo” and a “hostile work environment.”

With quid pro quo, also called “this for that,” the employee is pressured to accept sexual advances that are not wanted or acquiesce to sexual favors in exchange for the job or advancement in the job. The employee might face sanctions or outright termination for rejecting the sexual advances. There are other ways in which quid pro quo can take place, such as pressuring an employee to take part in religious services. Those who make employment decisions, such as hiring, promoting, demoting and firing, are often perpetrators of quid pro quo harassment.

Hostile work environment harassment is when anyone who is somehow connected to the workplace engages in conduct that the victim believes is unwelcome. This is not limited to those who are employed at the workplace. It can be anyone who is involved in any way at the job. Examples of this type of behavior include talk of a sexual nature, inappropriate jokes, touching someone inappropriately, making comments on another person’s physical appearance, showing pictures that are deemed offenses, making demeaning or derogatory comments and more.

To be deemed a legal violation, the behavior must be unwelcome and based on the status of the victim. It must also be abusive to the victim and severe and pervasive to the degree that a reasonable individual would find it to be hostile. This is assessed on a case-by-case basis. Those who are seeking employment or already have a job and find themselves victimized by acts and behavior that offends them could have the right to seek compensation in a legal filing based on workplace discrimination law.