A hostile or offensive work environment is one that an individual finds uncomfortable or intimidating to work in. It could also be an environment an individual finds discriminatory in nature. Many individuals often find their work environment to be hostile or offensive when they are being sexually harassed by an employer, co-worker, customer, or client.
What is sexual harassment?
Generally, in order for behavior to be classified as sexual harassment, it either must create an offensive or hostile work environment or it affects an individual’s employment in some way. Sexual harassment falls into one of two categories, quid pro quo or hostile environment sexual harassment, according to the District of Columbia Office of Human Rights. Quid pro quo is when an employer makes unwanted sexual advances, requests sexual favors, or engages in other types of behavior that are sexual in nature, and the behavior interferes with employment or becomes a condition of an individual’s employment.
An example of quid pro quo might involve an employer who requests that an employee submit to their sexual advances in exchange for them to keep their job or receive a promotion.
Hostile environment sexual harassment is when anyone in the workplace engages in unwanted behavior that is sexual in nature or offensive to a particular gender and interferes with an employee’s ability to work. Some examples of unwanted sexual conduct include:
- Requesting sexual favors or discussing sexual acts with another.
- Displaying parts of the body that are deemed inappropriate to show in public.
- Giving incentives to employees who engage in a sexual relationship and denying incentives to those who don’t.
- Speaking in a sexually explicit manner or using “sexually degrading language.”
- Making sexually offensive comments.
- Sending sexually explicit photos or text messages.
- Inquiring about an employee or co-worker’s sexual life.
- Repeated sexual contact
Who can be a victim of sexual harassment?
Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment and anyone in the workplace can be a potential offender. If an individual believes they are being sexually harassed by someone at work and aren’t sure what to do, their employer should have outlined procedures for them to follow to file a complaint. If no complaint process exists and the individual doesn’t feel comfortable with reporting their concerns to their employer or someone else in the workplace, they can always contact a Washington D.C. sexual harassment attorney for help.
Because it isn’t always easy for an employee to come forward with their complaints, whether it is because they feel embarrassed, ashamed, or because they are fearful of retaliation, USAttorneys.com can help them get connected with a sexual harassment lawyer in Washington D.C. who will be able to help them address their issue. Whether an individual works in Washington, Shaw, or Adams Morgan, USAttorneys.com can assist them with locating an attorney who is sure to help them.