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What Is Considered Workplace Sexual Harassment?

Posted by B&F Contributor | Mar 21, 2023

Employees need to receive fair treatment and be respected to be successful in their careers. Unfortunately, discrimination and harassment can make this impossible for many employees. This includes the significant number of employees who experience workplace sexual harassment. Each year, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) receives thousands of reports of alleged workplace sexual harassment. While many employees are sexually harassed in the workplace, they may not know what their rights regarding this treatment are and what counts as sexual harassment.

The sexual harassment attorneys of Barrett & Farahany understand how difficult it is to find yourself in a situation where you believe you may be experiencing sexual harassment at work. We can help you understand what is legally considered to be workplace sexual harassment and how you can get help. 

What Constitutes Workplace Sexual Harassment? 

A person's sex is a protected characteristic, and harassing them based on this characteristic is illegal. There are two types of unlawful sexual harassment in the workplace. These are:

  • Hostile Work Environment - A hostile work environment occurs when the offensive conduct becomes a condition of continued employment or is so pervasive and severe that any other reasonable person would consider the working environment to be hostile, intimidating, or abusive. Because of this, petty slights, annoyances, and isolated incidents, unless extremely serious, would likely not be considered to create a hostile work environment. 
  • Quid Pro Quo Harassment - Quid pro quo harassment occurs when someone in a position of power requests sexual favors from an employee in return for an employment benefit, such as a promotion. Employees may also feel forced into this to prevent the harasser from taking negative action against them, such as terminating their employment. 

Sexual harassment can also be committed by anyone in the workplace. This includes coworkers, supervisors, and even outside parties, such as customers and clients. Additionally, the genders of the person being harassed and the harasser do not matter. Sexual harassment is unlawful regardless of the gender of those involved. 

Examples of Workplace Sexual Harassment 

Employees may experience sexual harassment in the workplace in various ways, and none should be overlooked. While some forms of sexual harassment may be more overt, others may be subtle and leave those experiencing it feeling unclear as to what they should do. Some common forms of sexual harassment that can occur at work include:

  • Making sexual jokes
  • Sharing inappropriate images or videos
  • Making inappropriate comments about an employee's appearance
  • Making offensive gestures
  • Touching an employee inappropriately 
  • Repeatedly asking an employee on a date
  • Sending inappropriate messages

If you experienced the conduct above or another form of sexual harassment at work, you need to consult with an attorney. 

Put a Stop to Sexual Harassment with Barrett & Farahany 

Sexual harassment in the workplace should never be condoned. These actions and behaviors are unlawful and cause employees to feel unsafe and unwelcome. At Barrett & Farahany, we understand the difficult position you're in. While seeking help in this situation is often not easy, you should never have to experience this and need to protect yourself. Our sexual harassment attorneys can help you understand what legal options you have to get justice.

Contact us today for assistance if you believe you've been sexually harassed at work.

About the Author


When you reach out to us, you will receive a complimentary consultation with one of our skilled Atlanta employment attorneys. During our initial consultation with you, we can help you to better understand your rights and will work with you to determine what course of action is in your best interest. We take great pride in providing assistance based on years of experience negotiating and litigating employment matters to protect employee interests. If you find yourself in need of dedicated legal representation, we are prepared to advocate on your behalf – our goal is always to protect employee victims of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation.