Sexual Harassment at Workplace

No matter what field they are in, sexual harassment is an issue that affects all women in the world, but because the legal system is ineffective, they are unable to protect them. Not only that, but women who live in those nations with advanced legal systems also deal with issues like being fired from their jobs, being mocked, facing pressure from society or being promised coveted promotions, among other things, that leave them speechless. It is used to remind women that they are weaker than men and is about male domination over women.

The biggest obstacle to reducing sexual harassment in a society where violence against women is used as a demonstration of the patriarchal ideals at play is due to these values held by males.

What is Sexual Harassment?

In Washington, a person's gender includes their sexual orientation as well as their gender identity and expression. The victim of sexual harassment is typically a woman, and the harasser is typically a man, however victims can also be men. The gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender communities are not exempt from sexual harassment. Sexual harassment can occur between persons of the same sex or those of opposite sexes.

Legal Definition of Sexual Harassment

An unwanted sexual advance is referred to as sexual harassment. Requests for sexual favors or other inappropriate sexual behavior that would cause an ordinary person to anticipate feeling offended, humiliated, and/or intimidated”.

Sexual harassment is prohibited by the Sex Discrimination Act of 1984, which also specifies its nature and instances. In addition, Victimization of a person for making, or threatening to make, a sexual assault claim filed with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

Some examples of sexual harassment −

  • Inappropriate touching;

  • Glaring or mocking;

  • Sexist jokes or remarks;

  • Posters or images that are sexually explicit;

  • Invitations to dates that aren't wanted;

  • Sex demands, etc.

The issue of sexual harassment at work is really significant. The health and wellbeing of employees may suffer. It may reduce productivity among employees. It may lead to more employee turnover and absenteeism.

What is Workplace?

As stated in the definition, a workplace is "any place visited by the employee arising out of or during the course of employment, including transportation provided by the employer for performing such a travel."

  • The organized and unorganized sectors are both included in the concept of a workplace.

  • Additionally, it covers all workplaces in India, whether they are controlled by Indian or international corporations.

Some examples of Workplace −

  • Government entities, including public enterprises, private companies, and cooperative groups;

  • Organizations, ventures, societies, trusts, non-profits, or service providers in the private sector that offer services connected to commerce, professions, education, sports, professional entertainment, industries, healthcare, or finances, including production, supply, sale, distribution, or services;

  • Nursing homes and hospitals;

  • Sports academies and facilities;

  • Locations traveled to by the employee, including any transportation provided by the employer.

Sexual Harassment at Workplace

Unlawful sexual harassment can also result from a hostile or sexually saturated work environment or culture. Several case law-based indicators that may be present include obscene or pornographic materials being displayed, general sexual jokes, vulgar language or innuendo, and insulting jokes are all examples of potentially hostile environments.

There are two type of sexual harassment at workplace −

Hostile Work Environment

You receive unwanted requests for dates repeatedly and without your consent, unpleasant gestures or touching, jokes or practical jokes, intimidating actions, or pornographic materials from someone you work with. You are the target of this behavior because of your gender identity (because you are a woman, a man, or transgender). These transgressions must be serious and/or widespread. This indicates that either the harassment is frequent enough to interfere with your ability to perform your job properly or that it is severe enough that even a single incidence can impair your performance.

Furthermore, you need to demonstrate that the harassment was caused by your employer (either directly or indirectly). Included in this are actions taken by clients or suppliers of your employer.

Quid Pro Quo

Sexual harassment occurs when a manager begs or insists that you have sex with them in exchange for pay raises or other job perks.

If you were forced to have sexual contact because you were too ashamed to say "no," worried you would lose your job, or worried you would face repercussions at work, then your sexual contact may have been a form of unlawful harassment. Your gender identity must have played a significant role in the harassment you experienced, even if it wasn't the only reason you were picked out for this discriminatory treatment.

Significant Components of Sexual Harassment at Workplace

Very often situations that start out innocently end up in inappropriate and unprofessional conduct.

  • It is vital to understand that workplace sexual harassment is sexual, unwelcome and the experience is subjective.

  • It nearly always takes place in a power matrix, where the impact rather than the goal is what counts.

  • A woman could encounter just one episode of sexual harassment or a string of events over time.

  • It's crucial to keep in mind that every case is unique and needs to be assessed in the light of its own particular circumstances.

Recognizing and differentiating between acceptable and unacceptable sexual behavior is essential for the prevention of sexual harassment at workplace.

Sexual Harassment and its Laws

According to Indian law, sexual harassment infringes on women's fundamental rights to equality with men and to a life of dignity under articles 14 and 21, respectively. However there are no particular laws in India to prevent sexual harassment at work, there are some provisions in other pieces of legislation, such as the Indian Penal Code (IPC), which protects against sexual harassment of women −

  • Sec 294-Indecent behavior and music in public.

  • Sec 354-Criminal force or assault on women.

  • Sec 376- Rape

  • Sec 510- Speaking or acting in a way that offends a woman's modesty.


In India, sexual harassment at the workplace is a major problem, thus it's important to give female employees a supportive environment. Separate legislation should be passed by the government to address this issue. The government must ensure the security of women workers at work because they make up a significant portion of the working population in India. Employers and managers need to develop new tactics to safeguard the company from this threat. Government and companies should make sure that women are treated fairly and that there is no gender discrimination at work. The manifestation and mutilation of sexual harassment can be minimized with the effective execution of the policies.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1. What behavior is harassment?

Ans. Inappropriate jokes, slurs, epithets, or name-calling, physical threats or attacks, intimidation, mockery or derision, insults or put-downs, offensive objects or images, and interference with work performance are all examples of offensive conduct.

Q2. What is not considered workplace harassment?

Ans. The actions that result from a mutually consenting relationship are not regarded as harassment. A hug between friends, flirting between coworkers, and compliments on one another's physical beauty are not regarded as harassment.

Q3. What makes a strong harassment case?

Ans. Typically, if you hope to have a successful harassment lawsuit, the harassment must be so consistent or severe enough that any reasonable individual would consider it intentionally hostile or abusive in nature.

Updated on: 13-Mar-2023


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