Omid Nosrati

Knowing what qualifies as sexual harassment

When it comes to problems in the workplace in California, one of the most dangerous issues is sexual harassment. Often, accounts of sexual harassment go unreported because the victim either feels scared of retaliation or is not aware that their situation will qualify. The American Association of University Women has detailed the different ways that harassment can occur to educate all employees about work situations that are unacceptable.

First, it is important to realize that there are different types of sexual harassment. One example is a hostile atmosphere at work that can be offensive or intimidating. In order to be considered harassment, the behavior or language generally needs to be either "severe" or "pervasive". There are several factors that will be analyzed, including the following:

  •          Event frequency
  •          Number of people involved
  •          Severity of offense
  •          Number of targets
  •          Whether harassment is physical or verbal

The actions that create a hostile environment can be repeated requests for sexual favors or advances.

The other type of sexual harassment is called quid pro quo. Events of this type only need to occur once to qualify as abuse but include actions or statements that imply that the employee's job is subject to their agreement to sexual favors. Some examples include withholding promotions unless the employee complies or offering special assignments only if favors are given.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission adds that, in order to qualify as harassment, the advances must be unwelcome. Victims can also be men or women of any gender or sexual orientation.

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