Sexual harassment in the Minnesota workplace is not always cut and dry. When most people think of sexual harassment, they think of forward advances, such as groping, inappropriate and unwanted touching and even attempted or actual rape. However, according to Money Crashers, which cites the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment is any repetitious and unwanted behavior that affects your mental and physical health or your ability to perform your job. That said, what types of behavior are both sexual and harassing in nature?
According to Money Crashers, there are two types of sexual harassment you can experience in the workplace: “Quid pro quo” and “hostile work environment sexual harassment.” You may be the victim of quid pro quo if an employer or manager makes employment decisions based on your rejection or submission to unwelcome sexual advances. For instance, your supervisor might ask you to attend the holiday gala with him or her and threaten your planned promotion if you refuse. Hostile work environment sexual harassment occurs when a higher-up or coworker engages in offensive behavior that is so severe and consistent it creates a hostile work environment.
Though it is difficult in many situations to tell if a coworker or manager is guilty of sexual harassment, the best indicators are the pervasiveness of the behavior and how it makes you feel. If a coworker makes an inappropriate joke, you may feel offended, but it is unlikely the EEOC would step in. However, if a coworker constantly makes you feel uncomfortable through inappropriate jokes, comments and gestures, you may be the victim of sexual harassment. Types of behavior that the EEOC may deem inappropriate include slipping an arm around your waist, standing too close, making comments about your appearance or clothing, requesting to meet up alone after work, using foul language, making offense gestures or showing you sexually suggestive or offensive images.
You should not use this article as legal advice. It is for educational purposes only.