5 Awkward Sexual Harassment Situations at Work
Getting your dream job, let alone a job in general already comes equipped with jumping through hoops and competing with other eager job seekers. Just getting invited to come in for an interview is a miracle within itself! Making a positive impression on the employer is key. Of course, each hiring facility will have a set of qualification such as your education, experience, and extra circulars, but employers are also looking to what qualifications an interviewee has outside of the four corners of their resume: personality. How well do you work with others? What are you willing to admit are your shortcomings? How do you perform under stress? And most importantly, although unconventional, does the employer like you? Yes, you can be polite in your interview but what vibes do you give off? Sometimes your employer liking your personality can make or break a job opportunity as well as job security. In one scenario, you may meet all the qualifications the role requires but the employer may feel intuitively your personality does not fit or on the other hand, you might not even meet all of the requirements yet the employer is won over by your personality.
With this dilemma in mind, it can be argued that earning a potential employer’s satisfaction with your personality is important in obtaining as well as maintaining a job. So what happens after you are hired and employer/employee compatibility is taken to a more romantic level by one willing and one unwilling party? For an employee who is in a situation where their boss is romantically interested in them, it can be complicated, especially when that employee does not share the same feelings. Similarly, what happens after you begin working in an environment where other employees hassle you on a daily basis regarding matters that are of a sexual nature?
There are five particular issues that can arise in a work situation that can get awkward because one person is a victim and the other is a harasser. Some situations may be physically inappropriate while other matters involve words or images as a vehicle for sexual harassment.
1. Send Nudes
“Send nudes” has oddly become a somewhat normal phrase in today’s society. While technology offers copious amounts of information at our fingertips, it also provides a platform for turning what is private to public in an instant. But how does this impact the workplace?
It is naturally assumed that in order to sexually harass a person, there needs to be the element of romantic interest by the harasser, however, this is not the case. Sending or even showing inappropriate pictures to a co-worker can be categorized as sexual harassment. For example, if a female employee received a text from her boyfriend in which he is naked and this employee attempts to show this photo to another employee, this may be considered as sexual harassment.
2. Hot Gossip
We’re all human, we thrive when in a community, therefore in a work situation, we will socialize to a degree. But what happens when socializing leads to gossiping and the subject matter of that gossip is of a sexual nature? Believe it or not, spreading rumors about an employee that is sexual can be considered as a form of sexual harassment. Even if the person spreading the fictitious story (or perhaps even truthful story) is not romantically interested in the person, that person’s behavior may be categorized as sexual harassment. For example, Samantha was awarded a promotion, which resulted in continuous closed-door meetings in her boss’ office. Taking notice if this, Pam, another employee at the company, began telling other employees at the company that Samantha was sleeping with their boss, which is the only reason she was promoted. Pam would also torment Samantha in passing, making comments regarding intimate relations between Samantha and her boss. This began to have a negative effect on Samantha’s performance in her role as she felt uncomfortable in her own workspace. Here, Samantha may have a sexual harassment claim against the company for Pam’s behavior. Samantha could possibly make a complaint to the company’s Human Resources Department or to a manager so that they can have a chance to address the matter.
3. Don’t be a Tease
“Just kidding!” is an expression commonly made to emphasize to the teased person, that the behavior towards him or her was in good fun. The statement, however, does not excuse the effect of the “joke” on the person it was inflicted upon nor does the label confer immunity over offensive behavior. Teasing can be a form of sexual harassment and every workplace should have a zero-tolerance policy for any such actions. Joking and teasing that is in regards to a person’s body, sexual orientation, intimate relations with others, or an even a joke about another party to a person that is sexual is considered as sexual harassment. For example, Bob, an employee at a bank, continuously would make comments about another female employee’s breasts to another employee Greg. Here, although the sexual jokes were not about Greg, the comments were sexual and made Greg uncomfortable. Therefore this could be seen as sexual harassment.
4. Lets trade!
A simple trade-off at work can be more harmful than you think. Quid pro quo is considered a type of sexual harassment where there is a trade-off of an employment benefit in exchange for a sexual favor. Another form of quid pro quo is the deprivation of an employment benefit if the request for a sexual favor is rejected. An example would be if a manager told an employee “If you don’t have a drink with me after work, I will reduce your hours”.
5. Rejection revenge
Last but certainly not least, it can be beyond awkward if an employee complains about their boss making sexual advances towards him or her and thereby are retaliated against. For example, if an employee makes a complaint to another manager or Human Resources about their boss making unwelcome sexual advances towards them, the harasser may punish him or her. They may be punished by being demoted, removed from the work schedule, transferred from their position or location, or even bullied.
For more info, you can contact a sexual harassment attorney,