Sexual harassment is often classified based on its impact on the worker who has been mistreated. Government authorities recognize both the creation of a hostile work environment and quid pro quo harassment as serious issues. Most claims of sexual harassment involve either someone feeling unsafe at work or enduring unwanted advances.
However, sexual harassment can also be classified according to the kind of misconduct a worker experiences. A single sexual harassment incident could involve behaviors that fall into one or more of the three of the categories below. These are the three main types of sexual harassment that someone might encounter on the job.
1. Audible or verbal harassment
Verbal sexual harassment might involve someone making sleazy jokes or verbally requesting certain kinds of favors from someone. Audible harassment might include playing sounds or noises intended to offend, such as the background sounds from explicit videos. Any auditory input that makes someone uncomfortable could be a form of sexual harassment.
2. Visual sexual harassment
Some people are exhibitionists, which means that they find it thrilling to expose themselves or their sexual proclivities to others. Visual harassment could stem from someone’s exhibitionism, as they might send unwanted sexually explicit images to someone or allow them to catch them in the act of masturbation at work. Inappropriate gestures or facial expressions would fall under this category. Attempting to show someone something graphic or suggestive might also fall into this category of sexual harassment.
3. Physical sexual harassment
When someone crosses the line and touches another person suggestively or offensively, then they may have engaged in physical sexual harassment. Actions intended to offend or to coerce someone into certain behavior could fall into this category of harassment. Acts of physical sexual harassment might also violate assault statutes in some cases.
Workers who document the different kinds of harassment that they experience on the job will generally have an easy time fighting back. Documenting and then speaking up about workplace sexual harassment can help to protect the person experiencing this form of mistreatment and may push a company to change its practices. Those who are in need of legal guidance as a result of work-related harassment should not hesitate to seek support in order to exercise their rights more efficiently and effectively.