Sexual harassment in the workplace can take many different forms. Sexual harassment often occurs where an employer or person in a superior position is sexually harassing an employee or subordinate, but it can also occur between employees who enjoy an equal work status. Sexual harassment can quickly make the recipient feel scared and uncomfortable to continue in their employment but also vulnerable as they may need their job. For some, sexual harassment can be emotional scaring, cause PTSD and other psychological and emotional damage. Sexual harassment can occur between people of the opposite sex or of the same sex, regardless of the sexual orientation of the parties involved.
One type of sexual harassment in the workplace is called “Quid Pro Quo”, which translates to “something in exchange for something else. “Quid Pro Quo” is when someone offers a benefit or promotion in exchange for a sexual favor. It can also occur if your superior threatens to demote you if you fail to comply with their advances.
There is also a type of sexual harassment called “Hostile Work Environment.” “Hostile Work Environment” is when somebody that you work with makes inappropriate sexual gestures, comments and/or even sexually assaults you. Even if it is not aggressor’s intention to offend you, if the types of behavior, comments, etc are inappropriately sexual in nature, it is considered sexual harassment.
Some examples of sexual harassment may include but are not limited to: pressuring a co-worker for unnecessary or inappropriate personal interaction, making sexual or lewd jokes, leaving sexually suggestive gifts on the co-worker’s desk, inappropriate and unwelcome touching (such as regularly invading another co-worker’s personal space), presenting sexual charged or pornographic items and pictures in the workplace, etc. Even inappropriate comments and gestures made during off-work hours that affects the co-worker relationship at the work place can be considered sexual harassment in the employment industry. (This can include making sexual comments on a co-worker’s social media page.)
The reality is that many acts of sexual harassment is done when there are no witnesses and not in writing. It often becomes one person’s word against another. If you are being sexually harassed at your workplace, make it clear that you want the harassment to stop and if possible -record it. Also, report it to your supervisor in writing. One should never “bait” a co-worker into sexual harassment, but if you have told you co-worker to stop and they continue – their advances, comments or gestures may become predictable. In Louisiana, it is legal to secretly record a conversation if at least one of the members of that conversation (you) is aware that the conversation is being recorded. Unfortunately, sometimes that is what it takes to prove what has been occurring by the perpetrator.
If you have been sexually harassed at your workplace, call us. Don’t be afraid that you are going to lose your job. It is actually illegal for your employer to fire you in retaliation for making a sexual harassment complaint and your employer will be liable for damages as a result. Nobody should be sexually harassed at their workplace or anywhere for that matter. Call us for a confidential consultation and we will advise you of your rights free of charge.