Posted by Tamara
Many employers assume that sexual harassment must include the promise of a reward or a threat of job loss, or quid pro quo. This assumption is incorrect.
Sexual harassment does not have to contain an overt or implied reward or punishment to be discriminatory. Any scenario where an Arkansas employee receives unwanted attention due to his or her sex is illegal sex discrimination.
Consider Tina, an Arkansas employee. Her supervisor repeatedly asks her for oral sex with the implication that she’ll lose her job if she refuses. This is a quid pro quo example of sexual harassment, but only constitutes one type of sex discrimination.
Another example of sexual harassment includes Maria, who asks Tom, her coworker, out on a date. Tom refuses and makes it clear he isn’t interested. So far, there’s been no discrimination or harassment. If, however, Maria continues to ask Tom out, and he refuses, she is guilty of sexually harassing Tom.
Sexual harassment and sex discrimination exists when any employee, male or female, receives unwelcome sexual advances. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), complaints by men of being sexually harassed by women have increased. Complaints by male employees being harassed by other male employees have increased as well.
Not all scenarios have to be repeated incidents. For example, if Joe leers at Alice and says, “You look really great in that shirt,” he is sexually harassing her. Some court cases have even ruled that telling dirty jokes at work constitutes sexual harassment.
Whether it is repeated incidents, or one event, it is the employer’s responsibility to provide a harassment-free environment. This includes coworkers, supervisors, customer and vendors. If Greg receives unwelcome sexual advances from a vendor, the employer must stop it. If a company allows this behavior to continue, the employer is liable and could be required to pay damages in the millions of dollars.
Bottom line: an employer must provide an environment where employees can do their work, without fear of unwanted sexual advances from anyone.
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