Workplace sexual harassment is deeply unpleasant to the victim but they may not be aware of their rights. This article clarifies what workplace sexual harassment is, how it affects employees and what they can do if they feel they are being harassed. It also looks at how employees can make their voices heard and change the workplace culture.
What is workplace sexual harassment?
Workplace sexual harassment is a form of sexual discrimination and contravenes Title VII of the Civil Rights Act 1964. If a company has more than 15 employees, they have a legal duty to protect their workers from such harassment (though some industries are exempt).
Harassment is any form of unwelcome sexual advance or sexually-related behavior which creates a hostile work environment. Workplace sexual harassment can take two forms:
- ‘Quid pro quo’ sexual harassment is where a colleague, superior or customer asks an employee for sexual favors in return for a tip, promotion, time off, extra pay or another advantage. Alternatively, the employee may be told they will lose their job, be denied a role or be docked pay if they don’t comply with a sexual request.
- The creation of an intimidating, humiliating or hostile work