What employers should know about sexual harassment

On Behalf of | May 17, 2022 | Employment Law -- Employer |

As an employer, you bear some responsibility for the health and well-being of your employees. This includes protecting them from sexual harassment.

You may not be able to effectively be able to prevent sexual harassment if you have outdated or incomplete notions of where and how it happens. Here are some important things you should know, some of which may go against prevailing conceptions.

Not all sexual harassment is a quid pro quo

Quid pro quo sexual harassment occurs when someone in a position of authority in a place of business asks sexual favors of an employee in exchange for a certain job-related outcome. However, a hostile work environment is another way that sexual harassment can take place in your company. If someone at your company makes unwanted sexual advances or comments or habitually makes demeaning comments about a particular sex or gender, it could create a hostile work environment.

Anyone has the potential to be a harasser

The nature of quid pro quo sexual harassment requires it to be behavior by a supervisor toward a subordinate. However, anyone at your company could create a hostile work environment. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, even people who do not work at your company, such as customers or clients, can commit sexual harassment by creating a hostile environment for your employees. If you have control over these non-employees, you are responsible for protecting your employees by addressing the harassment.

Sexual harassment does not only affect women

Anyone at your company, regardless of gender, can commit sexual harassment. Anyone, regardless of gender, can be a victim of sexual harassment. The harasser and the victim can be of the same or different genders.

Furthermore, your employee does not have to be a part of the group the behavior targets for the harassment to affect him or her or to file a complaint about it.