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How to Recognize Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment can cost a company millions and damage employee morale. Nip it in the bud by identifying it early with this information.


  • Step 1: Identify sexualized social environments Identify sexualized social environments, such as ones where sexual joking is prevalent.
  • Step 2: Recognize quid pro quo harassment Recognize that any unwelcome sexual activity that the harasser ties to employment decisions or benefits qualifies as quid pro quo sexual harassment under federal law.
  • TIP: A supervisor asking for a date in exchange for a promotion is practicing quid pro quo harassment.
  • Step 3: Spot a hostile work environment Familiarize yourself with what constitutes a hostile, offensive, or intimidating work environment, such as vulgar language, sexual innuendoes, pornography, or inappropriate physical contact.
  • Step 4: Document harassing conduct Document harassing conduct, particularly if the perpetrator is a supervisor. Log each incident, including dates, times, and witnesses’ names.
  • TIP: Men suffer sexual harassment, too, especially those whom others perceive as less masculine.
  • Step 5: Remember collateral victims Remember that the victim of sexual harassment does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone that the offensive conduct affects.
  • Step 6: Count on frequency Count on frequency to prove harassment – the courts will not consider one isolated incident harassment unless the conduct was extreme.
  • FACT: Did you know? Almost half of all working women have experienced some form of harassment on the job.

You Will Need

  • Observation skills
  • Documentation

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