There are generally two types of sexual harassment—hostile environment sexual harassment and quid pro quo sexual harassment. Hostile environment sexual harassment includes unwanted sexual advances, or unwanted visual, verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature or unwanted conduct that is based on the gender of the person who is being harassed. This definition includes many forms of offensive behavior and includes gender-based harassment of a person of the same sex as the harasser in addition to harassment of a person of the opposite sex. The following is a partial list of potentially prohibited behavior:
- Visual conduct – leering, making sexual gestures, displaying sexually suggestive objects, pictures, writings or objects.
- Verbal conduct – making or using derogatory comments, epithets, slurs and jokes. Verbal abuse of a sexual nature, graphic verbal commentaries about an individual’s body, sexually degrading words used to describe an individual, sexually oriented noises or remarks, questions about a person’s sexual practices.
- Physical conduct – touching, assault, impeding or blocking movements.
Not all unwanted conduct of this type is prohibited hostile environment sexual harassment. To be prohibited, the conduct must be severe or pervasive.
Quid pro quo sexual harassment often can include:
- Offering employment benefits in exchange of sexual favors.
- Making or threatening retaliatory action after receiving a negative response to sexual advances.
Whether there is a viable hostile environment or quid pro quo sexual harassment claim depends on the specific facts of your case. We can listen to you describe the facts of your case and let you know if we believe it is something on which we can help you.