What if sexual harassment occurs outside of the office?

Employees across Massachusetts are entitled to work in an environment that is free from hostility, discrimination and harassment. Employers will often put policies in place to ensure that these types of behaviors don’t happen. When it does, companies generally have a disciplinary and investigative procedure.

What happens with work-related gatherings outside of the office though? Many companies take employees outside of the office for team bonding sessions, parties and other events. Does inappropriate conduct in these environments count as workplace harassment?

What sexual harassment looks like

The most blatant form of sexual harassment involves unwanted touching of a sexual nature. Harassment can often be more subtle than this though, but that doesn’t mean it is any less damaging. Inappropriate comments can also count as sexual harassment.

“Quid pro quo” harassment

Your boss may have been supportive and professional in the office environment, but this could change at outside gatherings. They may feel that because you are out of the work setting, then the normal rules don’t apply. This is not the case though. Any inappropriate behavior at a work-related event could impact how you feel in the workplace. If your boss suggests that you could go a lot further in the company if you grant them sexual favors, this is classed as quid pro quo harassment. This is unlawful and you do not have to put up with it.

You should always feel safe at work and this includes all work-related events. If you’ve been harassed, it’s important to act proactively and nip the issue in the bud. You have legal rights and options at your disposal that can help you fight back.



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