There are basically two kinds of sexual harassment recognized by federal law:
(1) Hostile-work environment sexual harassment – This kind of harassment occurs when an employer or agents of the employer (manager or non-manager) subject an employee to unwelcome sexual behavior (physical or verbal). A hostile work environment can exist if the unwelcome actions are severe or pervasive.
(2) Quid pro quo sexual harassment – This kind of harassment occurs when an employer or agents of the employer place terms and conditions of an employee’s continued employment on the return of sexual favors.
Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:
- The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
- The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee.
- The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
- Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
It is usually helpful for the victim to inform the harasser directly that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop. The victim should generally use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available.