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Human Resources

Human Resources

Sexual harassment defined

"Sexual harassment is illegal. It is defined by law as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, visual, or physical contact of a sexual nature."

In practical terms, there are two kinds of sexual harassment:

Quid pro quo:

Where employment decisions or expectations (e.g. hiring decisions, promotions, salary increases, shift or work assignments, performance expectations) are based on an employee's willingness to grant or deny sexual favors. Examples:

  • Demanding sexual favors in exchange for a promotion or a raise.

  • Disciplining or firing a subordinate who ends a romantic relationship.

  • Changing performance expectations after a subordinate refuses repeated requests for a date.

Hostile environment

Where verbal, visual, or physical behavior in the workplace: 1) focuses on the sexuality of another person or occurs because of the person's gender; 2) is unwanted or unwelcome; and 3) is severe or pervasive enough to affect the person's work environment.

The following are examples of behaviors that can create a hostile environment if they are unwanted and uninvited:

  • Off-color jokes or teasing, sexual innuendos
  • Comments about body parts or sex life
  • Repeated requests for dates
  • Excessive attention in the form of love letters, telephone calls or gifts
  • Suggestive pictures, posters, calendars or cartoons
  • Offensive emails, screen savers, computer material
  • Leering, stares or gestures
  • Invading another person's "space"
  • Touching - brushes, pats, hugs, shoulder rubs or pinches