Sexual Harassment

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, there are two main types of unlawful harassment in the workplace: Quid Pro Quo Harassment (or “this for that”), and Hostile Work Environment Harassment.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, a hostile work environment “can result from the unwelcome conduct of supervisors, co-workers, customers, contractors, or anyone else with whom the victim interacts on the job, and the unwelcome conduct renders the workplace atmosphere intimidating, hostile, or offensive.”

The investigation of hostile workplace claims is a type of employment law and may involve a variety of situations including discrimination, harassment, wrongful termination and retaliation.

Harassments in the Workplace


Quid Pro Quo harassment involves a person in power, like a supervisor, who has the power to make or recommend employment decisions, requiring an employee to accept unwanted terms in exchange for keeping their job or getting a raise or promotion. This is most commonly seen in circumstances of sexual harassment, where an employee is pressured to accept unwanted advances or to actually participate in a sexual relationship with a supervisor.

Quid pro quo harassment can also be seen in situations of discrimination against someone’s religious beliefs, where an employee is pressured to participate in a religious activity as a condition of their employment.

What is Sexual Harassment?


Sexual harassment is outlawed by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 because it is a form of discrimination, as explained by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). The agency defines sexual harassment as “[u]nwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature constitute sexual harassment when this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual’s employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual’s work performance, or creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.” We are looking at any claim involving extreme sexual harassment or sexual assault.

It is important to note that harassment is a violation of the law only when the conduct is unwelcome AND violates the employee’s protected status.

What does harassment look like?


Harassment can take the form of conduct that directly affects the way the employee is treated. This is known as disparate treatment discrimination, such as when an employer treats a worker unfavorably due to characteristics like race, gender, nationality, etc. Harassment also can also manifest in policies or procedures that put a worker at a disadvantage. This is called disparate impact discrimination, for example when an employer’s policies or procedures appear to be treating everyone equally, but instead, affect certain categories of people unfairly.

Hostile Work Environment harassment can involve any type of unwelcome conduct perpetrated by a supervisor or anyone else in the workplace with whom the employee is forced to interact regularly. This may include co-workers, customers and contractors. This type of harassment ranges from using language that makes the employee uncomfortable or that is demeaning, using crude gestures, unnecessary touching, sabotaging the employee’s work, or even physical violence against the employee

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