10 Ways to Look at Sexual Harassment

Behavior that constitutes sexual harassment happens in every environment known to men and women. They are destructive, and often they are known as unwelcome behaviors that should never occur.

1. What is sexual harassment?

Sexual harassment is:

  • Influencing.
  • Offering to influence.
  • Threatening the career, pay, or job of a man or woman in exchange for sexual favors.


  • Repeated or deliberate comments that are offensive, gestures, physical contact of a sexual nature in the workplace, or environment-related to work

2. Why does sexual harassment keeps occurring?

Sexual harassment keeps occurring because many times, the perpetrators of this behavior are never required to account for their actions, so they continue this unlawful behavior day in and day out. These people are wreaking havoc wherever they go.

3. Sexual harassment allegations

As we will discuss later in this article, often time’s people don’t report cases of sexual harassment. On the other hand, when claims are made, the employer must be ready to spring into action.

One of the first things the employer must do is take all allegations seriously. All complaints of sexual harassment must be investigated as soon as possible. Delaying investigations will cause the victim to believe the company is not serious about a workplace free of sexual harassment.

4. Investigation of sexual harassment

During the investigative process, the following people must be interviewed:

  • The victim
  • The accused
  • Bystanders

5. What are examples that symbolize sexual harassment?

  • Demanding sex
  • Pressuring someone for a date
  • Texting pornography to a subordinate
  • Inappropriate sexual pictures
  • Inappropriate sexual posters
  • Whistling
  • Leaning over someone
  • Inappropriate pinching
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Telling sexual jokes
  • Unwanted gifts of a sexual nature
  • Inquiring about an employee’s sex life
  • Asking about someone’s personal life
  • Flirting in inappropriate ways
  • Invading another employee’s own space

All of the above are inappropriate and happen in work environments everywhere.

6. Why don’t the victims of sexual harassment report it?

Many times, the victims of sexual harassment fail to report such behavior because they are afraid.

Here are additional examples of why this is not reported:

  • They feel humiliated
  • It’s been too long
  • Lack of support
  • Shame
  • They are asked to dismiss it
  • They don’t believe they will be believed
  • Guilt
  • Hopeless feelings

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reported in 2016 that employees often fail to report behaviors that constitute sexual harassment. EEOC’s numbers show that as high as 75% of these victims fail to disclose, which is in keeping with the examples given above.

7. Here are some additional EEOC facts:

  • Charges filed with the EEOC alleging sexual harassment increased by 13.6 percent from fiscal year (FY) 2017.
  • For charges alleging harassment, reasonable cause findings increased by 23.6 percent to nearly 1,200 in FY 2018.
  • The EEOC successfully conciliated 498 charges alleging harassment, a 43 percent increase from FY 2017.
  • The EEOC recovered nearly $70 million for the victims of sexual harassment through administrative enforcement and litigation in FY 2018, up from $47.5 million in FY 2017.
  • In appeals of sexual harassment cases involving federal employees, awards increased by more than 180 percent in FY 2018 to $443,066.

8. What can be done to block this problem?

In the work environment, the employer must have a written sexual harassment policy displayed in a prominent location where all employees will have ready access to it. It must clearly explain that the company will not tolerate any sexual harassment.

Managers and supervisors must be proactive and take the lead to ensure that company policies are strictly adhered to.

9. What action can be taken against any Employees Who Are Guilty of Sexual Harassment?

The following actions can be taken:

  • Firing
  • Demotion
  • Suspension
  • Retraining
  • Probation
  • Counseling

Prevention is the best tool to combat sexual harassment. Employers need to be aware of the pulse of their work environment so they can address issues before they become problems.

It is the employer’s responsibility to see to it that the workplace is free of conditions that could facilitate sexual harassment or any other condition that would cause an employee to feel uncomfortable. Failure on the part of the employer to take action when warranted could make them liable in a court of law.

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, section 703 makes harassment illegal based on sex.

10. Here is an example of a situation of unwelcome conduct that is sexual harassment.

Bill Whitehead is the supervisor of a medium-sized packing company in the middle of Oklahoma City. Bill has been employed with the company for ten years now. He has received several awards for excellent production over the last five years.

Mary Shortfoot is the new intern who arrived three months ago from the parent company on the east coast. Mary has been looking forward to her new position. Her goal is to move up to a management position with the company over the next three years.

Bill is Mary’s immediate supervisor. Last week, Bill asked Mary to come into his office because he wanted to discuss her 90-day performance review.

When Mary entered Bill’s office, he told her to close the door behind her. Once Mary sat down, Bill said to her that he has been watching her over the last few months and that he likes the way she is performing her duties.

Bill went on to tell Mary that he is aware that she is interested in moving into a management position in the company in the future. Bill told Mary that he could help her accomplish her goals if she would be willing to go out for drinks when they get off from work and if she was willing to spend time with him in his apartment next weekend.

Mary was offended by Bill’s unwelcome comments. She felt that Bill put her in a Quid Pro Quo position. Mary believed that if she was not willing to do what Bill asked of her, he was not going to help her with her goal of moving into a management position in the future.

Quid pro quo happened in this scenario because Bill wanted Mary to go out for drinks and to spend time with him in his apartment in exchange for helping Mary get a management position with the company.

Merriam-Webster defines “Quid Pro Quo” as “something given or received for something else.”


Select the best answer.

If found guilty of sexual harassment, the following could happen:

  1. You could be fired.
  2. You could be demoted.
  3. You could be retrained.
  4. You could be put on probation.
  5. All of the above.

Answer Key: See: What action can be taken against any Employees Who Are Guilty of Sexual Harassment?

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