Your biological sex and sexuality have no bearing on your ability to do your job. Whether you are an accountant or an electrical technician, you want to receive professional and respectful treatment on the job from your employer and your co-workers.
Unfortunately, some people will have to deal with abusive sexual harassment at their place of employment. Sexual harassment often involves people that you encounter at work mistreating you or making you feel uncomfortable on the job because of your appearance, your perceived sexuality, or your gender or sex.
Learning how to identify the two primary categories of sexual harassment can help you take a stand against it in your workplace.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment
Quid pro quo is a Latin term that means one thing for another. It is often used to describe a reciprocal relationship, but it can also refer to inappropriate expectations from clients or managers at work.
In a sexual harassment scenario, quid pro quo harassment involves offering a reward or punishing a worker based on their compliance with sexual requests. Typically, the person committing quid pro quo sexual harassment will be in a position of workplace or financial authority.
A supervisor demanding sexual favors before they give someone a promotion or approve their annual raise is an example of quid pro quo harassment. Firing someone or cutting their number of scheduled hours after a rejection of inappropriate advances could also constitute quid pro quo sexual harassment.
Hostile work environment sexual harassment
A manager or co-worker does not have to have a sexual interest in another worker to sexually harass them. Creating a hostile work environment by making jokes at someone’s expense, sharing explicit materials that make them uncomfortable, or gossiping about their personal life could all be sexual harassment. Employers should intervene to stop employees from creating a workplace so hostile that it affects someone’s mental health or ability to safely do their job.
A hostile workplace claim could involve people of the same gender or sex as you who have no romantic interest in you whatsoever. A woman could sexually harass another woman by spreading rumors about her romantic history at work, thereby alienating her from all of her co-workers. If a worker speaks up and the abuse continues, then there may be grounds for a claim, especially if the business doesn’t take action.
Recognizing when flirting or joking crosses the line into sexual harassment can help you stand up for yourself and others at your place of work.