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What to do if you have been sexually harassed at work

Sexual harassment in the workplace can come in many different forms and have devastating effects on general well-being, mental health and job productivity. This blog is intended to briefly explain how sexual harassment is defined, and what you should do if you would like to take legal action.

What is workplace sexual harassment under the law?

Workplace sexual harassment is defined under the law as sexual advances or conduct of a sexual nature that is unwelcome, and which interferes with the working environment. Sexual harassment can be seemingly subtle in the form of comments or jokes, inappropriate physical contact or psychological in nature.

Types of workplace sexual harassmentThere are two overarching types of sexual harassment in the workplace:

1. Quid pro quo

Quid pro quo is a situation in which a colleague who is in a position of power over a person, for example, a manager, supervisor, or business owner, demands that they tolerate sexual harassment in exchange for job security or work-related benefit.

2. Hostile working environment

Sexual harassment that creates a hostile work environment is grounds for legal action. It refers to a circumstance where an abuse of power such as explained in the quid pro quo example is used repeatedly, forming a pattern. The harasser may or may not be in a position of power, but the conduct affects your working environment to a measurable degree. The court will take many different factors into account, such as whether the conduct was physical or verbal, whether the harasser focused on one or several people, and the frequency of the behavior.

Don't be afraid to take action

If you have been sexually harassed at work, it is important to note that it is a very common issue, and both women and men can be victims of sexual harassment. It is vital that you seek legal guidance for the best way to redress such an unfair situation.

Source: Find Law, "Sexual Harrassment at Work," accessed July 05, 2017

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