Types of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment can make a workplace miserable. Sometimes harassment takes place at work without anyone noticing that it’s actually harassment. This article covers the forms of sexual harassment that take place at work and the types of behavior that can be considered sexual harassment.

Types of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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Sexual harassment claims usually falls into one of the two categories:

Quid pro quo

This is an employment decision based on your submission to the harassment. This can be like a promotion, an assignment or even being promised you’d keep your job. Quid pro quo constitutes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature

Hostile work environment

A hostile work environment is created when the sexual harassment makes your workplace environment intimidating, hostile, or offensive. When the conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an employee’s work performance or of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment, it is considered sexual harassment.

Courts consider several factors to determine whether a work environment is hostile:

  • whether the conduct was verbal, physical, or both
  • how frequently it was repeated
  • whether the conduct was hostile or patently offensive
  • whether the alleged harasser was a co-worker or supervisor
  • whether others joined in perpetrating the harassment
  • whether the harassment was directed at more than one individual

What Kinds of Behavior are Considered Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment can vary based on the person and the situation. It most commonly includes behaviors such as:

  • unwelcome sexual advances
  • requests for sexual favors, direct or indirect threats or bribes for sexual activity
  • sexual innuendos and comments
  • sexually suggestive jokes, unwelcome touching or brushing against a person
  • pervasive displays of materials with sexually illicit or graphic content
  • attempted or completed sexual assault

Harassment in the workplace can come in many forms. If you feel uncomfortable in your workplace you may have a case.


Legal issues can be very timely matters that require immediate attention – the faster you begin pursuing resolutions, the better your chances of obtaining them. Contact us for further information.

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