Boulder, CO- Though sexual harassment is fairly common in the workplace, many people may not be aware of what sexual harassment is or what to do about it. Here we answer some of the common questions people have about sexual harassment.

What is sexual harassment?

The EEOC defines sexual harassment as:

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when:

  • submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment,
  • submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individuals, or
  • such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Can any person be sexually harassed?

Any person, regardless of their gender, race, sexual orientation or religion can be victims of sexual harassment and have equal protection under the law.

What is quid pro quo harassment?

Quid pro quo is a Latin term which means this for that. Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when an employer expects sexual favors from a subordinate employee in exchange for promotions, raises and retaining their job. With this type of harassment, the demands of a superior can be implied or explicit requests for sexual favors as a condition of their employment.

What is a hostile work environment?

A workplace becomes hostile when a person is subjected to pervasive and repeated sexual harassment. The behavior must be offensive to any reasonable person of the same gender and has to have changed the environment of the workplace to the degree that it is abusive or hostile. A hostile work environment can affect all employees whether

What can I do if I’m be sexually harassed?

  • First, you must report the conduct to your employer so they are given the opportunity to investigate.
  • If your company has a sexual harassment policy, follow the reporting procedures outlined in the employee handbook.
  • If the behavior persists, the sexual harassment victim can contact the EEOC to investigate and file a civil suit on their behalf.
  • The victim can also hire a sexual harassment to file a civil lawsuit which often results in larger settlements since awards are in federal lawsuits.

What are my employer’s responsibilities?

If you are being sexually harassed and have reported the behavior, your employer must investigate and take steps to put an end to the behavior. When an employer has failed to take action or stop the harassment, the victim can file a formal complaint with the EEOC or hire a private sexual harassment attorney.

What is retaliation?

Retaliation is the practice of punishing a victim of sexual harassment for reporting the misconduct. The punishment can include denying promotions or raises, firing the employee or demoting them for coming forward. Retaliation can also come from other employees.

Sexual harassment can be toxic in a workplace and anyone subjected to this behavior should come forward and report it.