It’s one thing if an employee gets sexually harassed one day with unwanted sexualized comments. It’s another thing if an employee gets sexually harassed every day for a year with sexual comments, unwanted touching and threats.

Although no form of sexual harassment is lawful — nor should employees tolerate it — some sexual harassment cases will require stronger sanctions against the abusers and employers that allowed the abuse to continue.

How do courts evaluate the severity of sexual harassment?

Courts generally classify sexual harassment into two categories (1) quid pro quo sexual harassment and (2) hostile work environment:

Quid pro quo: Quid pro quo sexual harassment happens when the abuser manipulates a worker to perform sexual acts, go on dates or do other unwanted actions in exchange for workplace benefits — or in exchange for not suffering a negative work-related consequence. In the case of a quid pro quo harassment, it only needs to happen one time for it to qualify as a legal violation.

Hostile work environment: A hostile work environment happens when there is a general environment of abuse, name calling, sexual banter, constantly being asked on dates and so forth at the office. In the case of hostile work environments, victims usually need to show that there was a pattern of repeated abusive behavior and illustrate the following information:

  • Was the behavior physical and/or abusive?
  • Was the behavior frequent and repetitive?
  • Was the behavior hostile or offensive?
  • Was the harasser a supervisor or a coworker?
  • Did others participate?
  • Was there more than one victim?

Make your harassment stop right now

There is no reason why any Missouri worker should have to endure workplace sexual harassment for even a day. If you are being abused like this on the job in any way, be sure to learn about the legal options available to you. You may also want to speak with your human resources department, supervisor and others at your workplace and demand that your mistreatment stop.