What are the two types of workplace harassment?

In recent years, researchers found that California had a higher rate of sexual harassment at work than the national average. While sexual harassment is the most commonly reported type of workplace harassment, this conduct can also be based on:

Below are the two main types of workplace harassment, and if you believe you have experienced one of them, reach out to a workplace harassment lawyer immediately.

Hostile Work Environment

You might think a comment is offensive, but for conduct to be unlawful in most cases, it must create a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment might result from:

  • A one-time incident that is highly offensive
  • Repeatedly engaging in pervasive offensive conduct

You can show a pattern of harassing behavior or that one instance was so offensive that a reasonable person would find the work environment to be hostile. Qualifying conduct might include repeated comments, jokes, emails or messages, unwanted touching, and more. A one-time occurrence of sexual assault or another type of disturbing or harmful behavior can also be enough for a hostile work environment.

If you believe you are in this situation, you must tell your employer about the situation. Your employer must properly investigate your complaint and take steps to stop future harassment, including possible discipline or termination of the harasser. If your employer fails to take your complaint seriously or does not take appropriate action, the company can be liable for hostile work environment harassment.

Anyone affiliated with your workplace can engage in hostile work environment harassment. This includes co-workers, subordinates, clients, contractors, and more. Hostile work environment harassment can be based on sex or any other protected factors.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

This type of workplace harassment only applies to sexual harassment. It involves:

  • Someone with authority over your job conditions makes sexual advances
  • The individual then ties your future job conditions to your response to their advances

For example, your boss could request sexual conduct and offer you a promotion if you agree. The owner of a company or an executive might threaten to fire you if you refuse to have sex with them. The effects on your job might be positive or negative, but your employment should never be tied to your willingness to engage in sexual conduct with a superior.

This is such a serious matter that you do not have to give your employer notice and the opportunity to take action before liability kicks in. If quid pro quo harassment occurs, whether or not you engage in sexual conduct as requested, your employer should be held liable for it.

Contact a Sexual Harassment Attorney in California

While there are two main types of harassment, each situation is different. Never hesitate to discuss concerns about possible harassment with a lawyer who can evaluate what happened and your rights. Seek legal assistance if your employer does not take action to stop a hostile work environment or if you experienced quid pro quo harassment.

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