When people talk about sexual harassment in the workplace, most assume that the perpetrator is a man and the victim a woman. While this is certainly a common occurrence, sexual harassment also occurs between people of the same sex. The Balance offers the following information on same-sex sexual harassment and what can be done about it.
It helps to remember that sexual harassment is not always predicated on attraction, although that can be a factor. It’s often a matter of control and domination, which is why people in positions of power are often accused of harassing their subordinates. The abuser may also be gratified by causing the humiliation of the victim or might even use the harassment as leverage towards some other goal.
In general, there are two types of sexual harassment as recognized by the law. Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a person demands a date of sexual favor in return for something else, such as a promotion or raise. There are also hostile workplace claims. In this case, a person’s unwanted advances, sexual jokes, comments, gestures, or anecdotes create such an unwelcome environment that an employee no longer wants to be a party to the treatment. Both claims are taken very seriously, especially when harassment is coming from a higher up, such as a manager or supervisor.
It can be difficult to report harassment in general, but it’s especially hard when it occurs between the same sexes. Unfortunately, many people don’t take these claims seriously, and will sometimes call into question the behavior of the victim. There is also a chance that nothing will be done about the situation and the victim will be retaliated against. While it’s certainly an intimidating experience, all victims of harassment should report the behavior to their human resources department. From there, an attorney can help you make a complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission if necessary.