Updated By Aaron Hotfelder , J. The EEOC receives and investigates complaints of sexual harassment in the workplace. In its investigations, the EEOC considers the circumstances and context in which the alleged incidents occurred and makes its determinations from the facts on a case-by-case basis. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. There are two types of sexual harassment recognized by federal law: quid pro quo and hostile work environment.
Women are overwhelmingly the victims of sexual harassment and so most of the stats we see relate to their experience. Even if details are shared, people tend to focus more on the salacious detail than any lessons that can be learnt. Privacy is essential, but organizations need to start having the tough conversations that can make change happen. Even when a definition is set out in black and white, cultural biases — particularly those stemming from a traditional view of the workplace as male-centric — can still impact how people interpret its meaning. And this divergence can have major consequences culturally and individually.
Sexual harassment is unwelcome sexual behaviour, which could be expected to make a person feel offended, humiliated or intimidated. It can be physical, verbal or written. Sexual harassment is not consensual interaction, flirtation or friendship. Sexual harassment is not behaviour that is mutually agreed upon. Men experience sexual harassment but it disproportionately affects women, especially in the workplace.
Sexual harassment at work is a form of unlawful sex discrimination. There are several key phrases in this definition that are important to understanding your rights and any potential legal claims you may have:. To be illegal, sexual harassment must be unwelcome. Unwelcome means unwanted. For this reason, it is important to communicate verbally, in writing, or by your actions to the harasser that the conduct makes you uncomfortable and that you want it to stop.