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How can sexual harassment occur in the workplace?

On Behalf of | Apr 11, 2023 | Employment Law

There has been a number of high-profile sexual harassment matters in the last couple of years and there has been an emphasis on it in Oregon like other areas of the country. When thinking about sexual harassment many people may think about people in high positions within companies making unwanted advances towards women or pressuring them into inappropriate positions. While that is certainly a form a sexual harassment, it can include much more than just that type of behavior.

Examples of sexual harassment

There are types of behavior that people endure that are less obvious, but still constitute sexual harassment. Some examples of less obvious sexual harassment are:

  • The harassment does not need to be a request for a sexual favor or sexual advances. It can be any verbal statements of a sexual nature that the affects the victims’ work performance or is intimidating
  • Both men and women can be a harasser and the victims do not need to be of the opposite sex as the harasser
  • The harasser does not need to be a supervisor or manager of the victim. It could be a co-worker, a supervisor in a different area of the company or even independent contractors that have jobs at the company
  • The victim of the harassment does not need to be the intended target of the harassment. The victim simply needs to be adversely affected by the behavior
  • The victim does not need to suffer any economic loss as a result of the harassment. The harassment just needs to create an environment that a reasonable person would think is hostile or offensive

There has long been a culture in some workplaces where sexual harassment occurred without any real repercussions. It is important that companies have policies in place to prevent and discourage sexual harassment.

Companies in Oregon should have a process for employees to make formal complaints and a policy in place for handling the complaints properly. If the company does not address the complaints properly employees may have sexual harassment claims against the company. This is a complicated area of law though and consulting with experience attorneys could be helpful.