Six Examples of Workplace Sexual Harassment

Six Examples of Workplace Sexual Harassment
Harassed Off Premises? By a Customer? Some of These Examples May Surprise You

Not all sexual harassment takes place in the workplace. For example, we know of sexual harassment on campus as well as passengers harassed by Uber and Lyft drivers. In this short post we identify some common examples of harassment in the workplace.

Example #1: Third-Party Sexual Harassment

Joanna is a waitress at the restaurant chain, Sports n’ Beer. A regular customer, Ned visits the bar during Joanna’s shifts and continually comments on her clothing and body out loud for other customers to hear, making her uncomfortable.

Though Ned is not  an  employee of  Sports n’  Beer,  Joanna may  be able  to file a claim for sexual harassment if Sports n’ Beer should be aware of Ned’s behavior toward Joanna, and takes no appropriate action to stop the behavior.

Example #2: Dating The Boss

Adam, the manager at Computer World, has asked his new computer salesperson, Linda, to go out for drinks almost every day since she started her job two weeks ago. Linda finally agrees. Adam and Linda date for two months before Adam decides to break off the relationship.

While this case appears to be a normal dating relationship, several factors may make Linda eligible to file a claim for sexual harassment. First, Adam is Linda’s superior, which may indicate an abuse of power. Second, Adam asked Linda out several times before she agreed, which might suggest unwelcome conduct. Specific circumstances like these could make Linda eligible to file a claim for sexual harassment.

Example #3: Quid Pro Quo Plus Retaliation

Greg has been a busboy at Pepper’s Restaurant for three years. He is always on time and a productive worker. His supervisor, Amy, tells him she will promote him to the upcoming waiter position – which pays more – if he will have dinner and drinks at her house. Greg contacts a Pepper’s Restaurant manager, Travis, to complain about Amy’s strange hiring practices. Travis then calls Amy and tells her she should fire Greg before he causes trouble. Greg loses his job the next day when he breaks a plate in the dishwasher.

In this case, Greg can sue Pepper’s Restaurant for both quid pro quo sexual harassment and employer retaliation. Amy conditioned Greg’s terms of employment on submission to unwelcome sexual advances. In addition, regardless of Greg’s solid track record with Pepper’s Restaurant, Greg was fired for no good reason soon after complaining to Travis about the sexual harassment.

Example #4: The Friendly Producer

Rachel, the producer of a film for CatVid Productions, holds a morning meeting every day with the cast of her new film - RoadPaw. Janice, the lead actress, notices that Rachel touches all the females on the shoulders and gives them hugs when she enters the morning meetings – yet doesn’t take much notice of the male actors in the room. Janice doesn’t like hugs from Rachel. She asks her co-star Barbara if Rachel’s touchy-feely nature bothers her. Barbara says, “No, Rachel is just being friendly.” The other female actresses also don’t seem to mind Rachel’s behavior.

Even though no one seems to mind Rachel’s hugs and touches, Janice does.  It is unwelcome conduct. It is also based on gender. Even though Rachel and Janice are both females, Rachel only touches and hugs the women and not the men. Therefore, Janice could have a case of hostile work environment sexual harassment.

Example #5: Front Desk Foolery

Bradley works at the front desk of the Overlook Hotel during the late-night shift, along with two other workers, Tina and Roger. Bradley is a jokester. Night after night, Bradley loves telling jokes about women’s intelligence, women strippers, blondes, and sex positions. Roger finds Bradley hilarious, but Tina feels uncomfortable and will often leave the front desk and go to the break room when they start telling jokes.

Because the jokes are gender-based and because Tina feels uncomfortable, Tina could sue for sexual harassment. The joking is affecting Tina’s work performance as she feels the need to leave the front desk when the males start joking around.

Example #6: Persistent Peter

Kimberly and Peter work as cashiers at O’Wheely’s Auto Parts. Peter is attracted to Kimberly and asks her out multiple times a week. Kimberly continues to reject his offers, but Peter is not easily dissuaded. He feels that Kimberly will eventually join him on a date and continues to ask her out.

Kimberly is indeed able to sue for sexual harassment as Peter’s conduct is unwelcome and sexual in nature.

Example #7: Off-Site Holiday Party

Rosa has been a sales manager at Alamo Electronics for three years. Every year, Dan, the manager at Zaps, rents out the entire Sports n’ Beer restaurant for the annual company holiday party. Rosa always brings her family to the holiday party and enjoys herself. But this year, Dan corners Rosa at the party and gropes her breasts. Rosa is devastated, but feels employment sexual harassment laws won’t protect her in this situation since the incident happens at a party and not at work.

Even though the harassing conduct did not occur in the workplace, Rosa can indeed sue for workplace sexual harassment because the conduct occurred at a work-related event.

If you been sexually harassed at work, visit our sexual harassment FAQ page. Ready to see if you have a case? Contact us online, by email [hidden email] or by phone 888.249.6944. All inquiries are kept strictly confidential. Cases are handled on a contingent fee basis meaning you never owe us anything for legal fees and costs unless we collect money on your behalf.

[Although the examples above are based on real events, the names of the victims are fictious. There is no connection to these fictious victims and the employers mentioned.]


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