Posted by Tamara
Arizona employers must offer their workers an environment free of sexual harassment. Employers who fail to do so can be hit with millions of dollars in damages as a result of lawsuits filed by the EEOC on a worker’s behalf.
The protection must be provided against sexual harassment from everyone, not just supervisors. That means other employees, vendors, and even customers. In every case an employee must block it.
In order to do so, employers must know just exactly what constitutes sexual harassment. So what is it?
Sexual harassment happens when any employee is the subject of unwanted sexual attention in the workplace. A common misapprehension is that it only applies when the target employee is female and is either threatened with firing for not complying with advances, or offered rewards for doing so, by a male supervisor. This is only one narrow form of sexual harassment, and it is called “quid pro quo.” It is not the only kind, however.
Quid pro quo itself may also occur when the harasser is a woman and the target employee is a man. It may occur between two women and two men. According to the EEOC, complaints by male employees against women, and complaints by male workers against other men, are both on the increase.
Beyond quid pro quo is another realm of sexual harassment. When one employee leers at another and says “You look really great in that shirt,” that is sexual harassment. Telling dirty jokes in the workplace may be also.
An example may help employers decide what constitutes illegal behavior.
Tom’s coworker, Maria, asks him out on a date and he says no. This alone is not sexual harassment. If Maria continues to ask him out, say five times in a row, even though he says “no” every time, that is definitely sexual harassment. By saying “no,” he has made it obvious that he does not welcome Maria’s approaches. Failing to stop Maria can cost an employer millions of dollars if EEOC files a lawsuit on her behalf.
Employees must be able to work without fighting off coworkers’ advances.
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