Retail stores account for a massive portion of the U.S. economy. Approximately two-thirds of the U.S. gross domestic product comes from retail sales. Retail employees are a crucial component of our modern lives, however, working conditions in the retail industry are often unsatisfactory and sometimes intolerable. Sexual harassment is prevalent throughout the retail industry. Sadly, some retail workers tolerate demeaning conduct at work because they are financially dependent on the job and do not know their legal options.
Sexual Harassment in the Retail Industry
Just over 13 percent of sexual harassment claims filed with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) between 2005 and 2010 involved retail workers. Grocery stores, clothing stores, shops, appliance stores, gas stations, and other retail stores are rife with sexual harassment. Sometimes, sexual harassment takes place in the form of co-worker misconduct. A hostile workplace is created when offensive, sexually explicit, or demeaning statements or behavior become so frequent or severe that they prevent workers from completing job duties. Hostile work environment sexual harassment may involve:
- Displaying pornographic pictures or videos at work
- Making comments about another worker’s body
- Joking about sexually explicit topics
- Rude comments or offensive generalizations about a gender
- Slurs and hateful language
- Unwanted sexual contact
- Constantly asking a co-worker out on dates
Sexual harassment in retail stores may also involve superiors trying to exploit positions of authority to gain sexual favors. For example, a manager may imply or outright state that a worker will gain a favorable work schedule if he or she consents to romantic or sexual conduct. This is called “quid pro quo” sexual harassment. Both hostile work environment sexual harassment and quid pro quo harassment are prohibited by federal and state laws....