If a worker is subjected to lewd comments, unwanted touching or other sexual actions in the workplace, it may be considered sexual harassment. Even if there is no intent to harass, it could be defined as harassment if there is a pattern of activity that creates a hostile working environment. Sexual harassment can come from a superior or any other employee within a company.
A common form of this type of behavior is quid pro quo harassment. Quid pro quo refers to employers giving out promotions or preferred assignments in exchange for sexual favors. In the event that an employer knows about sexual harassment in the workplace and does nothing to stop it, that employer could be held liable. This is true even if management or owners within the company are not actively engaging in such conduct.
When hostile working conditions are reported to an authority figure, that person is required to take prompt action to put a stop to such activity. An employee is allowed to raise concerns about sexual harassment in the workplace without fear of retaliation. Furthermore, employees may be allowed to testify about such harassment in front of the Civil Rights Commission without retaliation from employers.
Workers who feel as if they have been harassed in the workplace may wish to consult with an employment law attorney. An attorney may be able to help employees win damages and back pay if they have been terminated after raising concerns to management. If a worker is terminated and then reinstated, that worker may be eligible for any benefits that he or she would have been able to receive had he or she not been terminated.
Source: Indiana Civil Rights Commission, “Workplace Harassment“, December 01, 2014