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Types of Harassments, including Sexual Harassment

QUID PRO QUO   (This For That)

Example: A supervisor tells a subordinate that he/she must be sexually cooperative with him or he/she will be fired.

  • The strict liability associated with the term quid pro quo now is limited to circumstances where a "tangible employment action" has been taken with respect to the employee.
  • Supervisors or any person with authority in the workplace use their power and control as means of extracting sexual favors, directly or indirectly.
  • This kind of unlawful sexual harassment can be committed only by someone who can make or effectively influence employment actions, such as firing, demotion, and denial or promotion that will affect the victimized worker.
  • Under the new law (1998) if no "tangible employment action" occurred, such a statement would be considered part of a hostile environment.

  HOSTILE ENVIRONMENT

Unwelcomed sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, physical or visual conduct of a sexual nature constitute "hostile environment" sexual harassment when such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

A Hostile Work Environment is Created When:

  1. The conduct is subjectively perceived by the victim, and 
  2. When the conduct is objectively severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment that a reasonable person would find it hostile or abusive.

This type of harassment may be engaged in not only by supervisors or managers, but also by co-workers, vendors, or persons who are not even employed by the employer.

Sexual harassment can occur in a variety of circumstances, including but not limited to the following:

  1. The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  2. The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employer.
  3. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  4. Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
  5. The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.

The law Categorizes Harassment, Including Sexual Harassment Into Four Types of Conduct:

1. VERBAL CONDUCT

Making or using derogatory remarks, epithets, slurs, jokes, verbal abuse of sexual nature, conversation filled with sexual innuendoes, commentaries about an individual’s body, comments and questions about a person’s sexual behavior, obscene letters or notes.


2. PHYSICAL CONDUCT

Include touching, assault, impeding, or blocking movements. Massages, rubbing bodies against the other person’s body. Grabbing, kissing, hugging, and other unwanted offensive physical contact. Worst case involves physical assault, including rape.


3. VISUAL CONDUCT

Leering, making sexual gestures, displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures graffiti, cartoons, or posters. Use of the computers to send pornography.


4. RETALIATION

Retaliation for complaining about an employment condition that violates federal anti discrimination laws is prohibited by Title VII. Because you filed or you are a witness in a complaint your employer can not retaliate by giving you a transfer, demotion, termination pay reduction, or poor performance.


When Does an Environment Become Sexually Hostile?  To determine that, the courts consider these factors:

1) Whether the conduct was verbal or physical, or both.

2) How frequently it was repeated.

3) If the conduct was hostile or offensive.

4) Whether the alleged harasser was a co-worker or a supervisor.

5) Whether other joined in perpetrating the harassment.

6) If the harassment was directed at more than one individual. No one factor controls. An assessment is made based upon the totality of the circumstances.

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