Workplace sexual harassment continues to be a reality for far too many people. Many who suffer do not understand they have legal options to end it or do not feel that what is happening to them would qualify.
There are two legal concepts you can use to bring a claim. Quid pro quo and a hostile work environment. How do they differ?
Quid pro quo
One inappropriate action is enough to bring this type of claim due to its severity. It is when the perpetrator proposes an exchange requiring a sexual favor from you.
For instance, “Sleep with me, and I’ll ensure you get that promotion.” or,” Go on a date with me, and I’ll see to it that you don’t get laid off.”
It requires the perpetrator to be in a position of power over you. Your colleague who has no say about who gets promoted or laid off cannot be brought to justice under this (unless perhaps you genuinely believed they could influence those decisions). Your boss or line manager could.
Hostile work environment
This does not require one big event but rather a series of actions, which, even if relatively minor, combine to make going to work an unpleasant experience for you. Often, these are the sorts of things that people will try and brush off as just a bit of banter, a joke, or boys being boys.
Examples could include comments about what you are wearing or your body, unwelcome hands that linger too long on your shoulder, or certain ‘practical jokes.’
Putting a stop to sexual harassment is not always easy, but neither is putting up with it. Learning more about your legal options can pave the way for a better work experience for you and others.