What Are the Two Types of Sexual Harassment at Work?

Since the #MeToo movement went viral in 2017, it kindled an ongoing public conversation about an epidemic of sexual abuse and harassment, not just in the U.S. but also globally. Victims have been encouraged to speak up and come forward with their stories ever since, and high-profile sexual offenders like Harvey Weinstein and Bill Cosby were put behind bars. 

Misogyny and toxic culture of sexual harassment are hard to root out, and there’s a lot more work that we all need to do. Fortunately, DoNotPay can lend a helping hand for the right cause.

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Do you know what it means when somebody’s harassing you? Harassment is behavior that refers to any repeated or unsolicited contact that serves no useful purpose other than creating torment, annoyance, or emotional distress to the victim. It can occur online, in person, or through phone calls, to name but a few forms.

Repeated harassment might be legally interpreted as stalking or cyberstalking if it’s happening online. If you think you may be a victim of stalking, learn how to stop a stalker and how to obtain a restraining order.

Sexual harassment is unwanted behavior that’s sexual in nature. It involves things like:

  • Requests for sexual dates or favors, 
  • Unsolicited touching or physical contact
  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Derogatory or vulgar comments about the victim’s gender, appearance, or sexual orientation
  • Verbal harassment of sexual nature, like lewd comments or jokes

What Are the Two Types of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

People that are going through sexual harassment at work can suffer from long-term detrimental consequences to their mental health, self-confidence, and even physical health. Showing up every day at the office, factory, cafeteria, or grocery store where they earn their daily bread can all of a sudden turn into stomach-churning, intensely agonizing experience.

The most common type of workplace harassment is sexual harassment. In 2017, the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission received 26,978 claims of workplace harassment. A little more than a half of those claims related to sex-based harassment, and a quarter was about sexual harassment specifically.

Even though sexual harassment is a gender-neutral crime that can happen to both men and women, women are by far more affected by it. Looking at all processed sexual harassment charges by the EEOC in 2019, women filed 83.2% of the overall number. 

Sexual harassment in the workplace can generally be divided into two categories:

  1. Hostile environment sexual harassment
  2. Quid pro quo sexual harassment 

Hostile Environment Sexual Harassment

This anonymous Quora user described her harrowing experience of sexual harassment that’s a classic example of hostile environment harassment:

“I was harassed by the Head of Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI). He showed me photos of him with very few clothes on, and despite repeated requests for him to stop because he made me uncomfortable, he did not. He would apologize, act horrified at himself, and then do it again a few weeks later. He also requested private meetings with me, where he would share inappropriate information. He bought me boxes of chocolates which he would present to me in front of other team members.”

A hostile environment sexual harassment refers to continuous, unsolicited behavior that has a sexual connotation and creates a hostile work environment for the victim. 

Hostile environment sexual harassment can consist of any of the following acts:

  • Unsolicited sexual advances
  • Unwanted physical contact, including brushing up against the other person
  • Sexual jokes (told in person or sent through emails, texts, social media, etc.)
  • Anecdotes and conversations about sexual activities
  • Remarks about the victim’s gender, sexual orientation, or physical appearance 
  • Glares with obvious sexual innuendo
  • Posts of sexual materials, like videos and photographs 

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

For sexual harassment to be described as a quid pro quo sexual harassment, there needs to be a (proposed or executed) exchange of actions. (“Quid pro quo” is a Latin phrase for “this for that.”) 

When the victim’s employer or manager, i.e., somebody in a position of power and an authority figure, requests an intimate or sexual favor from the victim in return for a raise, employment, a promotion, or any other kind of professional benefit—that qualifies as quid pro quo sexual harassment.

Quid pro quo harassment may be less evident than hostile environment harassment, but it may be just as ubiquitous. Cornell Survey Research Institute’s annual Empire State Poll shows that 1 in 10 adult New Yorkers experienced “someone in a position of authority at their workplace trying to trade job benefits for sexual favors.”

What Are Not Types of Sexual Harassment at Work?

Even though the most common form of workplace harassment is sexual harassment, not all harassment that happens in the workplace is sexual in nature. 

Check out the table below for a clear differentiation between sexual vs. non-sexual workplace harassment.

Sexual Workplace Harassment

Non-Sexual Workplace Harassment

Sexual anecdotes

Generally offensive gestures

Inappropriate touching or intentional brushing up against the other person

Offensive comments related to someone’s race, gender, religion, ethnicity, appearance, sexual identity, and the like

Displays of sexual material in the workplace

Displays of generally inappropriate or politically incorrect material at the workplace
Lewd, vulgar, or offensive comments about someone’s sexual orientation or gender identification

Use of offensive stereotypes based on somebody’s race, religion, national identity, social background, etc.

Reporting Sexual Harassment With DoNotPay

Fox details how DoNotPay makes it easier to fight companies by suing them in small claims court

If you don’t know where to start with reporting sexual harassment, it’s ok — the DoNotPay app can assist you with that. Follow these steps:

  1. Access DoNotPay in your web browser or on your iOS device
  2. Click on the Relationship Protection button
  3. Select Explore Relationship Services
  4. Go to Safety and Stalking, then choose Let’s Do It
  5. Choose Stalking from the provided options—this also helps with harassment
  6. Answer to the chatbot’s questions

Once the app’s chatbot gathers the necessary information, DoNotPay will produce a cease and desist letter on your behalf. The purpose of this letter is to demand from the harasser to stop (cease) their behavior immediately and not restart it (desist).

Even if the cease and desist letter doesn’t stop the perpetrator in their misconduct, the letter will serve as proof that you’ve tried to remedy the problem yourself. The letter will also warn the other person that you intend to take formal legal action against them if they continue sexually harassing you.

DoNotPay Can Sort Other Things for You, Too

Why struggle with an overcrowded to-do list on your own if you could get a smart virtual assistant to help you out? DoNotPay easily takes over the errands and chores that usually give you a giant headache and can even save you some decent cash along the way.

Let’s get started! You can use the DoNotPay app in any web browser or download it to your iOS device.

Team up with DoNotPay if you need to: