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Sexual Harassment Handout: English Translation

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is any deliberate or repeated behavior of a sexual nature that is unsolicited and unwelcome to its recipient. It can be repeated several times or it can happen only one time in a severe fashion. It may be expressed verbally, physically, or through an implied exchange of sexual favors.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is against the law in the United States. No one should be obligated to have sexual contact or have sex with someone in order to get or keep a job or to keep the job’s current work conditions. In fact, to force or to obligate someone to have sex is rape and that is a crime.

The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a coworker, or a non-employee. Women can also be sexual harassers at the workplace. The victim does not necessarily have to be the person harassed; any person, regardless of age or sex, can be affected by offensive conduct and can report sexual harassment.

Types of Sexual Harassment

Verbal or physical. Any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature including touching, whistling, lewd jokes, or the presence of pornography in the workplace may qualify as sexual harassment.

Quid pro quo. This expression describes the abuse of power by staff in authority when sexual favors are openly or implicitly suggested as a condition of employment or benefit. For example, an employer of a hotel may offer hotel rooms free of charge to his female employees only if they have sex with him. Another example would be offering more work hours or a raise in exchange for a date.

Hostile work environment. The workplace becomes a hostile work environment when the employee’s capacity to do the job is damaged by the harasser’s undesirable sexual behavior. Many suffer in this intimidating and offensive environment due to fear of retaliation and loss of employment.

The Consequences

Sexual harassment is harmful not only for the victim and his or her family, but for the work environment as well. The victim suffers emotional trauma, frustration, loss of self-esteem, and anxiety over the fear of possible loss of employment. Others at the workplace also suffer from the harassment because it results in increased absenteeism and decreased productivity.

If You Are a Victim of Sexual Harassment—

  • If it’s possible and you don’t feel threatened, speak directly to the harasser either in person or in writing and let him or her know that the conduct is unwelcome and must stop.
  • Document each incident in a notebook or diary, keeping track of specific dates, times, locations, and names of possible witnesses.
  • Save any evidence, including notes, e-mails, gifts, or voicemail recordings.
  • If the harassment does not stop, use any employer complaint mechanism or grievance system available to report the incident(s). Keep a copy of all documents that are filed.
  • If the employer doesn’t take any action, speak with other people so that you do not suffer silently.
  • Even if you decide not to report the sexual harassment, you can still use the support services available in your community.

Everybody deserves respect regardless of immigration status!

For more information, contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) at 1–800–669–4000.

For local support and services related to sexual assault, call ________________________.

Office for Victims of Crime
810 Seventh Street NW., Eighth Floor, Washington, DC 20531
The Office for Victims of Crime is a component of the Office of Justice Programs,
U.S. Department of Justice.
Office of Justice ProgramsOffice for Victims of Crime. Justice For Victims Justice for All.