Building a safe and secure workplace is necessary and a critical aspect of organizational culture in today’s ever-changing work environment.

Sexual harassment remains a prevalent concern in any workplace, urging businesses to take proactive steps toward prevention and education.

This blog explores sexual harassment in the workplace, the role of tailored sexual harassment training, and creating a safe working environment for everyone.

Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Did you know that workplace harassment and misconduct affect 52% of employees?

According to the 2023 Workplace Harassment & Employee Misconduct Insights survey by HR Acuity, 57% of employees also reported harassment as a reason they left their workplace.

Workplace harassment and misconduct can significantly impact employees, causing them to leave their jobs and leading to decreased productivity, increased absenteeism, and a hostile work environment.

The U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

The EEOC categorizes sexual harassment into two categories: “quid pro quo” and “hostile work environment” claims.

Quid pro quo harassment occurs when an employee is subject to unwelcome advances or conduct of a sexual nature from a manager or individual in a position of power.

Employee’s submission to sexual conduct provides a basis for employment decisions, such as hiring, firing, promotion, or continued employment.

On the other hand, a hostile work environment claim arises when an employee is subject to unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature that is severe or pervasive enough to interfere with the employee’s work performance or create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment.

Here are a few examples of each in the workplace:

Quid Pro Quo Harassment:

  • A supervisor offers an employee a promotion in exchange for sexual favors
  • An employer threatens to fire an employee if they don’t go on a date with them
  • A manager promises a pay raise to an employee in exchange for sexual contact

Hostile Work Environment:

  • A coworker makes sexually explicit comments or jokes in the presence of other employees
  • Employees are repeatedly subjected to unwanted physical contact or touching
  • An employee is subjected to unwanted sexual advances or attention from a higher-up at the company.

Below, we’ll explore issues relevant to workplace harassment and organizational culture.

Sexual Harassment and Workplace Culture

The risks and results of workplace harassment can be severe.

Victims in The Workplace

It can devastate victims, especially when employees do not feel supported or confident in addressing the issue.

Between 58% and 71% of victims don’t report instances of workplace sexual harassment for a variety of reasons.

Aside from individual affects, harassment and misconduct cloud the whole organization.

Victims may feel anxious, stressed, and distracted, making it difficult to concentrate on their work.

These feelings can lead to decreased productivity, which, in turn, can impact the organization’s bottom line.


Another significant impact of workplace harassment is increased absenteeism.

Employees who experience harassment might feel intimidated and afraid to come to work, leading them to take more sick days or time off.

This can lead to a loss of productivity, and the organization may have to bear the costs of temporary solutions or overburdening other employees.

Hostile Work Environment

Workplace harassment can create a hostile work environment, impacting employee morale and motivation.

A hostile work environment can make employees feel unsafe and unsupported, leading to a toxic workplace culture.

A toxic culture can bring high employee turnover rates, which can be costly to the organization.

Workplace harassment is a problem that businesses should not ignore.

As an employer, you can take proactive steps to prevent and address sexual harassment in the workplace through sexual harassment training.

What is Sexual Harassment Training?

Sexual harassment training is a purposeful education course or program designed for employees to define sexual harassment and how to avoid it.

The goal is cultivating a work environment free from sexual harassment and discrimination.

While Tennessee might not legally mandate this training, it is considered a best practice for businesses provided by employers.

Below, we’ll dive into the specifics of sexual harassment training, its different aspects, and how training targets the pain points in your workplace.


Sexual harassment training helps employees recognize, prevent, and report sexual harassment.

By providing employees with the knowledge and tools they need to identify and address sexual harassment, employers can create a workplace culture that is respectful, inclusive, and free from harassment and discrimination.

Most courses are about educating employees on the definition of sexual harassment and its legal implications.

Emphasis is also placed on awareness of the various forms of sexual harassment, including quid pro quo and hostile work environment claims.


In workplace behavior, sexual assault training extends beyond overt acts, such as persistent and harmful behavior designed to demean or intimidate others.

Sexual harassment training provides the tools to effectively identify, prevent, and address inappropriate behavior in the workplace.


Discrimination involves mistreating individuals based on race, gender, or age.

Training programs explore the intricacies of discriminatory practices, giving businesses a clear understanding of what discrimination is, how it affects the workplace, and ways to avoid it.

These programs equip employees with the knowledge and tools to contribute to a workplace free from bias and inequality.

Same-Sex Harassment

Training programs on sexual harassment recognize and address the specific difficulties that arise in same-sex harassment scenarios, like unwanted advances or inappropriate conduct between individuals of the same gender.

Boss and Subordinate Harassment

Harassment dynamics involving bosses and subordinates can involve favoritism, inappropriate comments, and unwanted advances.

This type of harassment can be complicated to address, as subordinates may fear retaliation or feel powerless to report the behavior.

Training programs focusing on power dynamics can provide employees with the knowledge and skills needed to address harassment within the workplace hierarchy.

EEOC Protected Classes

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) protects individuals from discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.

Discrimination based on these protected classes is illegal and can seriously affect businesses.

Training addressing EEOC-protected characteristics can help employees recognize and address discriminatory practices and build a culture that values inclusivity.

Federal Guidelines

Federal guidelines provide a foundation for organizations building their policies and training programs.

Federal entities, such as the U.S Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, enforce laws to make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or an employee because of their race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability, or genetic information.

It’s important to note that harassment is not limited to sexual acts but can also include offensive remarks about a person’s sex.

For instance, making derogatory comments about women in general is considered a form of harassment and is against the law.

The victim and the harasser can be of any gender, and the harassment can occur between individuals of the same sex.

While the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment becomes illegal when it is pervasive or severe enough to create a hostile or offensive work environment.

Additionally, if harassment leads to adverse employment decisions, such as termination or demotion, it is also deemed unlawful.

It’s noteworthy that the harasser can hold various roles within the workplace, ranging from supervisors and coworkers to individuals outside the organization, like clients or customers.

EEOC Laws In The Workplace

The reach of EEOC laws extends to most employers with a workforce of at least fifteen employees, involving businesses, labor unions, and employment agencies.

These laws are comprehensive, applying to many areas of the employment relationship, including hiring, firing, promotions, harassment, training, wages, and benefits.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission holds the authority to investigate discrimination charges against employers covered by these laws.

Their role in this process is to conduct thorough and impartial assessments of the allegations presented in the charge, ultimately delivering fair and accurate findings.

This underscores the EEOC’s commitment to upholding the principles of equality and non-discrimination in the American workplace.

Company Guidelines

Company sexual harassment guidelines refine these principles by developing protocols that cater to their unique organizational culture.

Internal protocols are instrumental in addressing and preventing sexual harassment within the specific context of each workplace.

They supplement federal guidelines, ensuring that organizational values and expectations are clearly communicated to all employees.

Who Needs to Take Sexual Harassment Training?

All Employees

All employees, regardless of their position, contribute to the overall work environment.

Ensuring that every individual receives training emphasizes the collective responsibility of each team member.

Managers and People in Positions of Power

Those who work in prominent positions not only set the tone for the work environment but also play a pivotal role in addressing reported cases of sexual harassment.

Additional training for this group is essential to equip them with the skills needed to handle such cases effectively.


Supervisors are key figures in organizational hierarchies who can play a role in shaping the work environment.

Their participation in sexual harassment training is not just beneficial; it’s necessary for creating a positive and respectful atmosphere where employees feel safe and valued.

Contract Workers

Extending sexual harassment training to contract workers is imperative for maintaining a consistent standard of behavior across all employment types.

Like full or part-time employees, contract workers should be well-versed in the organization’s expectations regarding respectful conduct.

What Makes a Successful Sexual Harassment Prevention Policy?

  • Clearly defined zero-tolerance statement
  • Types of Sexual Harassment
  • Clearly defined descriptions of all prohibited actions
  • Reporting of unwelcome behaviors and complaints to HR, supervisors, senior staff
  • Bystander intervention
  • Third-party harassment
  • Investigation procedures
  • Confidentiality
  • Illegal retaliation
  • The company’s consequences
  • Employee access to policy
  • Updates at least once a year

Real success in sexual harassment training extends beyond understanding legal definitions.

In your business, you can measure successful training through positive behavior shifts such as respect, civility, improvements in relationships and employee confidence, and evidence of leadership modeling the expected behaviors to support a non-harassment workplace.

Sexual Harassment Training at Workforce Essentials.

At Workforce Essentials, we specialize in delivering sexual harassment training services designed to meet the needs of your business in Tennessee.

A tailored approach ensures that training programs resonate with your organization’s specific needs and culture, making it more effective in preventing and addressing sexual harassment.

Our award-winning instructional material is designed to fit your employee training objectives at an affordable price.

We create a program that aligns with state laws but also prioritizes the safety and knowledge of your employees.

Interested in learning more about our training services?

At Workforce Essentials, we offer a variety of courses that benefit your business.

Along with Sexual harassment training, we offer courses that cover:

  • Performance reviews
  • Myers Briggs assessments
  • Diversity
  • Conflict management
  • Communication skills
  • Supervisor training
  • Employee surveys
  • Process management
  • And more

Looking for more information about our sexual harassment training? Contact us today or visit a location near you for more details.