Workplace environments should be safe, respectful and conducive to productivity. Unfortunately, incidents of sexual harassment can disrupt this, leading to uncomfortable situations that can affect mental, emotional and physical well-being.
Understanding the different types of sexual harassment at work is a crucial step in preventing such situations and maintaining a healthy work environment.
Quid pro quo harassment
Quid pro quo harassment occurs when supervisors, managers or owners of a company make job benefits, including employment, promotion or salary increases, contingent on sexual favors. It often involves individuals in positions of power exploiting their authority over subordinates. This type of harassment is not limited to explicit demands but can also include implicit propositions where the subordinate feels pressured into complying to maintain their job status.
Hostile work environment harassment
Workers can establish a hostile work environment when unwelcome sexual conduct becomes a persistent or pervasive part of the work environment, making it intimidating, hostile or abusive. This can include, but is not limited to, inappropriate jokes, offensive comments, unwanted touching or displaying explicit materials. It is important to note that the target of a hostile work environment does not have to be the direct target of the harassment; anyone affected by the inappropriate behavior can suffer.
Verbal and physical harassment
Sexual harassment can take many forms, both verbal and physical. Verbal sexual harassment might include lewd comments, sexual jokes or unwanted sexual advances. Physical harassment could involve unwanted touching, assault or physical interference with movement or work.
Online and digital harassment
In the digital age, sexual harassment has also moved into the online sphere. Online or digital harassment can occur through email, social media or other digital platforms. This can include sending unsolicited explicit images, making inappropriate comments or engaging in other forms of online sexual misconduct.
Understanding the different types of sexual harassment empowers individuals to speak up, support others and foster a respectful and safe work environment. It is important that any individuals who experience harassment at work immediately tell a supervisor or Human Resources what happened to end the inappropriate treatment.