You deserve respect at work. If your supervisor is creating a hostile work environment or harassing you at work, call us at 347-979-2929 for advice on how to deal with this situation. Certain forms of workplace harassment are illegal and should always be taken seriously.
Q: What is Sexual Harassment?
- Sexual harassment is any repeated or unwanted verbal or physical sexual advance, sexually explicit statement, or remark made in the workplace that is offensive or objectionable to the worker or that causes the worker discomfort or humiliation or that interferes with the worker’s job performance.
Q: Who is Responsible?
- Management is responsible for providing a harassment‐free work environment.
- Remember, sexual harassment depends on how the person being harassed is affected, not on the harasser’s intent.
Q: Why Does Harassment Occur? A: Power. Sexual harassment is caused by a desire to control another person or group of people by humiliating and demeaning them. As a result, most harassment victims are those who have the most to fear from losing their jobs or job benefits. Most sexual harassment goes unreported because victims are made to feel ashamed about what has happened to them. They don’t want others to say that they “asked for it” or that they will not be believed if they report the conduct. Rather than be embarrassed or lose their jobs, workers who have been harassed may either quit or take sick leave or try to move to a different job. This leaves the harasser feeling free to harass other workers.
Q: What Conduct Is Considered Sexual Harassment? Sexual harassment is unlawful under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. In many instances, it is a supervisor who is the harasser. There are, however, situations where the harasser is a co‐worker. Sexual harassment can take many forms, including:
- Offensive or suggestive comments.
- Touching, pinching, or patting.
- Sexually suggestive pictures or objects in the workplace.
- Staring or leering at a person’s body.
- Suggestive gestures or looks(winks, licking lips, etc.).
- Propositions or explicit demands for sexual activity not mutually agreeable to both parties.
- Offers of promotions or increase benefits in exchange for sexual favors.
The Law Prohibits:
- Quid Pro Quo Conduct: This term literally means “this for that” and covers situations where submission to unwelcome sexual activity is made a condition of employment or the basis for decisions affecting the worker’s job or working conditions. The harasser will be someone in a position of authority who appears to be able to carry out the threatened consequences.
- Hostile Work Environment: A hostile environment occurs when a supervisor or co-worker harasses a worker solely because of gender. Usually, a hostile, intimidating or offensive working environment will be caused by persistent and repeated incidents of harassment. However, a single incident might create a hostile environment if the conduct involved is serious enough.
- Sexual Favoritism: Harassment can occur when a supervisor plays favorites and rewards those who respond to sexual advances, while denying job benefits or favorable working conditions to others who are equally qualified but who are not engaging in sexual activity with the supervisor.
- Gender-Based Harassment: Derogatory comments or offensive behavior based solely on gender may also be unlawful even if it is not overtly sexual in nature. For example making derogatory comments to or playing pranks on a woman because she is a woman.
- Indirect Harassment/Retaliation: Witnesses to sexual harassment at work can be victims of a hostile work environment even if they are not the targets of the harassing conduct. An employee who complains about harassment is also protected from adverse job action based on the complaint.
WHAT CAN I DO ABOUT IT?
- Instances of sexual harassment should be taken seriously and confronted when they arise. For knowledgeable and free advice, CALL NOW: 347-979-2929.
Information on sexual harassment based on resources provided by Communications Workers of America (CWA) Education and Civil Rights & Equity Departments and Women’s Committee. Human Rights Department Communications Workers of America 501 Third Street, NW Washington, DC 20001 http://www.cwa-union.org.