Hostile workplace sexual harassment is a type of sexual harassment prohibited under the law. Workers and victims of this type of sexual harassment should be familiar with what it is and how they are protected against it.
What is considered a hostile workplace?
Hostile workplace sexual harassment is a potentially actionable type of sexual harassment that is prohibited in the workplace. Hostile workplace sexual harassment includes sexual-type conduct that is unwelcome and is severe and pervasive enough to create an abusive and offensive work environment. To determine if a hostile work environment exists a variety of elements may be evaluated including:
- If the conduct complained of was verbal, physical, or both;
- The frequency of the conduct complained of;
- If the conduct complained of was hostile or patently offensive;
- If the alleged harasser was a co-worker or supervisor to the victim;
- If others joined in perpetrating the harassment; and
- If the harassment was directed at more than one individual or singled out the victim.
Examples of this type of sexual harassment can include offensive behavior such as persistent and offensive sexual jokes, inappropriate touching or posting offensive material on a bulletin board at work.
Depending on the number of employees the employer has, federal or state employment laws may provide protections for victims of sexual harassment who may be able to seek compensatory and punitive damages for the harm they have suffered. It is important to keep in mind that employees are protected from this type of unwelcome conduct which can making going to work every day a nightmare for victims.