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Are you familiar with the types of sexual harassment?

As an employee, you hope you never have to deal with any form of sexual harassment. Unfortunately, there may come a time when you find yourself in this undesirable position.

It's important to become familiar with the many types of sexual harassment, as this will give you a clear idea of your legal rights and the steps you should take (as well as things to avoid).

Generally speaking, there are two forms of sexual harassment:

  • Hostile work environment
  • Quid pro quo

Hostile work environment comes into play when conduct or speech is so severe that it leads to a demeaning work environment. Some forms of hostile work environment sexual harassment include: sexual jokes and comments, inappropriate touching, and repeated requests for romantic get-togethers.

Quid pro quo is when one person implies or offers a sexual favor in exchange for some type of workplace benefit, such as a pay raise or promotion. Just the same, it can also come about in exchange to avoid a detriment, such as a demotion or termination.

Here are some circumstances to think about:

  • The harasser and victim can be of either sex. Also, the victim does not have to be the opposite sex of the harasser.
  • The harasser can be the victim's coworker, supervisor, or a non-employee (such as a contractor).
  • There can be more than one victim, such as any other employee who was affected by the offensive behavior.
  • In order for sexual harassment to be present, the harasser's behavior must be unwelcome by the victim.

It's important for employers to understand the seriousness of sexual harassment in the workplace, as this leads them to provide proper training. Simply put, prevention is the key to reducing the potential for this behavior.

If you have any reason to believe you were the victim of workplace sexual harassment, you should immediately inform your supervisor or HR department. Along with this, take notes and collect any evidence that will back up your claim.

While it's your hope that bringing the behavior to light is enough to resolve the concern, this doesn't always happen. That's why it's a must to learn more about your legal rights.

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