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Does sexual harassment require physical contact?

On Behalf of | Aug 19, 2022 | Employment Law |

People sometimes get their terms mixed up when talking about legal issues. Hence they might think that they cannot accuse someone of sexual harassment at work unless that person tried to have sex with them or something similar.

Something of that severity is more likely to be sexual assault than harassment, and you would probably want to deal with it via the police rather than your employer. If proved, the perpetrator could get a criminal record.

Here is what could count as sexual harassment

There are two legal grounds for bringing a sexual harassment claim: quid pro quo and a hostile work environment.

Quid pro quo involves the harasser making some benefit conditional on another thing of a sexual nature. For example, your boss makes clear that they would “love” to promote you, but first, you need to pull the curtains in their office and get undressed. Or, they may explain that they need to let someone go, and if you do not want it to be you, then you should accept the offer of dinner at their place tonight.

A hostile work environment involves a sequence of events that reach the point where you feel uncomfortable at work. For example, you keep opening your computer to find someone has changed your screen saver to a picture of someone naked. Or you dread walking past the sales office because every time you do, you feel a set of eyes boring into your behind or a bunch of guys whispering about you.

It can also involve physical contact that does not qualify as assault, such as a manager who continually tries to massage your shoulder or a coworker who squeezes a little too close to you on the couch.

If you need to put a stop to workplace harassment or seek compensation for it, get legal advice to find out how to go about it.