It is not difficult to find questionable, or even insulting advice online about how to avoid being accused of sexual harassment. The notion that someone can find themselves the “accidental” perpetrator of harassment is ridiculous. It is not a fine line between appropriate interactions and sexual harassment. Harassment is unquestionably disgusting behavior and the individuals who perpetrate it, as well as employers who tolerate it are clearly in the wrong.
Quid pro quo harassment
You help me, and I’ll help you. It’s a simple enough concept. But when a supervisor or manager offers career help in exchange for sexual favors, that is sexual harassment. It is an abuse of power and both the manager and his or her employer know it. While workplace relationships may be allowed, employers need to understand that a manager who engages in a relationship with someone who reports to them must be transferred or have his or her duties changed to prevent quid pro quo harassment.
What is important to note is that reasonable conduct is not going to lead to a finding of sexual harassment. Anyone treating their coworkers with the respect they are due will not have any problem with sexual harassment lawsuits. The types of behavior that most often give rise to harassment claims are blatantly inappropriate. They include:
- Groping or sexual assault
- Repeated requests for dates
- Stalking behavior
- Pornographic or clearly sexual jokes, comments or images directed to a coworker
No one accidentally grabs a coworker’s genitals. The kind of repeated or outrageous actions that give rise to sexual harassment lawsuits are not misinterpreted friendly gestures. Harassers know that what they are doing is wrong. They only pretend not to (while often attempting to cover up what they’ve done) after the fact.