Types of Sexual Harassment: What is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is a pervasive problem that affects millions of people every year, with devastating consequences for victims and their families. This discrimination can take many forms, from unwanted sexual advances and comments to physical assault and violence. Despite increased awareness of the issue in recent years, sexual harassment remains a significant problem in many workplaces, schools, and other settings.

This article will explore the nature of sexual harassment, its impact on victims, and the steps that can be taken to prevent it. We hope to raise awareness and promote meaningful change to help create safer, more respectful environments for all by shining a light on this critical issue.

Take a step towards promoting a safe and respectful work environment by signing up for our sexual harassment training program.

Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is illegal in the workplace and violates an employee's right to be free from unlawful discrimination under Title VII of the civil rights laws. Sexual harassment includes unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

The victim can be either a man or a woman, and the harasser can be the same or opposite sex. However, sexual harassment does not have to involve conduct of a sexual nature; instead, it may include offensive remarks about a person's sex.

Sexual Assault

Sexual assault is any sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the victim. Sexual assault can be committed by someone known to the victim (e.g., intimate partner, friend, or acquaintance) or by a stranger.

Sexual assault includes a wide range of behaviors from mild to severe:

  • Unwanted touching or kissing
  • Forcing someone to engage in sexual acts against their will
  • Rape
  • Incest

Sexual assault is a crime of power and control. It occurs when someone uses force or coercion to get sexual access to another person. Sexual assault can occur between people who know each other or those who don't know each other at all. A stranger, an acquaintance may sexually assault a person, someone they have just met, or even someone they are in a relationship with.

Quid Pro Quo Harassment

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when a supervisor or someone with power in the workplace benefits an employee in exchange for sexual favors. For example, if your boss promises to give you a raise if you go on a date with him, that's quid pro quo harassment.

Hostile Work Environment Harassment

Hostile work environment harassment is a form of sexual harassment that occurs when unwelcome sexual conduct unreasonably interferes with an employee's job performance. The conduct can be verbal or physical, and it must be severe or pervasive to create a hostile work environment.

The harassment must also be based on the victim's protected characteristic (or perceived protected characteristic). For example, if an employee is being sexually harassed because they are gay and their harasser has made derogatory comments about LGBT people, this may qualify as discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Similarly, if an employee is being sexually harassed because of their gender identity (for example: "You should dress like this because you're trans") or pregnancy status (for example: "You should be ashamed for getting pregnant"), then this would likely qualify as discrimination based on sex/pregnancy.

Unwanted Flirting, Touching, and Sexual Advances

This is the most common form of sexual harassment in the workplace. It can be challenging to determine whether a person's behavior is welcome or unwelcome because it is often normal during social interaction. However, if you feel uncomfortable with someone's actions toward you, it's best to let them know how they make you feel as soon as possible.

If they continue their behavior despite knowing how it makes others feel, they may engage in sexual harassment. You should report this immediately so that steps can be taken toward stopping the harassment before it becomes more serious than just unwanted flirting or touching (and possibly even assault).

Sexual Harassment Is a Form of Gender Discrimination

Sexual harassment can be a form of gender discrimination. Sexual harassment is also known as sexual discrimination, sex discrimination, and gender bias.

Sexual harassment is when someone treats you badly because of your sex or gender identity. This can include unwanted touching or comments about your body or looks, being treated differently than others because you're a woman (or man), or being teased for things that are typical for girls/women (or boys/men).


While some forms are more obvious than others, all sexual harassment has the same effect: it makes the victim feel unsafe and uncomfortable in their workplace or school environment. It can also have serious consequences for victims' mental health and well-being if left unchecked by authorities or employers who fail to adequately address such incidents when they happen.

Don't wait for a harassment incident to occur, equip yourself with the knowledge and skills to prevent it. Sign up for sexual harassment training today!