Understanding Sexual Harassment

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Every individual has the right to feel secure, comfortable, and respected in his or her workplace. In many, or even most, office environments, employees are treated with the dignity and respect they deserve. Unfortunately, even with extensive information and educational materials available on the subject of sexual harassment and its legal and ethical dangers, a number of individuals remain the victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.By understanding what exactly constitutes different forms of sexual harassment, hopefully more people can become aware of the possible effects of their actions (if they could be perceived as hostile or inappropriate). Additionally, individuals who are the victims of sexual harassment will hopefully be empowered to stand up for themselves and demand the respect they deserve.Quid pro Quo Sexual HarassmentPerhaps the most commonly thought of form of sexual harassment is known as quid pro quo sexual harassment. In Latin, quid pro quo means “something for something”. With this form of sexual harassment, an individual in a managerial position (eg. a manager or supervisor) will either· Offer a lower-level employee additional benefits or work privileges in exchange for sexual favors· Threaten a lower-level employee with the loss of benefits or work privileges, or possible termination, if they do not engage in some sort of sexual activityIn cases of quid pro quo sexual harassment, not only is the individual making the sexual advancements guilty of harassment, but the company and top-level executives can be held responsible as well, as managers and supervisors are usually considered to be acting on behalf of their superiors.Hostile Work EnvironmentAnother type of sexual harassment that can show up in workplaces is known as hostile work environment sexual harassment. A hostile work environment is created when individuals create an environment that makes one or more employees feel uncomfortable or victimized in the workplace because of either subtle or overt sexual materials or actions.Examples of actions that could create a hostile work environment may include· Unwanted physical contact
· Flirtatious behavior
· Sexually explicit emails, jokes, or picturesThis particular type of sexual harassment is especially dangerous in the workplace because individuals often do not think about how their actions may be perceived by their co-workers. What one person may consider a relatively harmless joke might be extremely offensive to another person. To prevent creating a hostile work environment, all employees should take into consideration the feelings and opinions of their co-workers to prevent offense.If you would like more information on sexual harassment, contact Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer Perry Smith today.