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Can sexual harassment happen outside of work? 

All employees across Missouri have a legal right to work in an environment that is free from hostility, discrimination and harassment. Generally, employers take steps to ensure that none of this occurs in the workplace. For the rare instances that it does, companies should have a thorough grievance and disciplinary procedure. 

There’s a special occasion coming up at your work soon. A long-term employee is retiring after many years of service. The boss has arranged a party for them at a local restaurant and all staff members are invited. Is it possible that sexual harassment could occur at this party? Are you protected from this? 

Behaviors can change outside of work 

The behavior of colleagues can drastically change outside of work, particularly when alcohol is flowing. Individuals may be prepared to say things that they would not have said in the office. For instance, a coworker may become extremely flirty, crossing the line into making inappropriate comments of a sexual nature. 

Importantly, sexual harassment doesn’t necessarily always come from employees that are at the same level as you. Occasionally, upper management can engage in this inappropriate conduct too. Quid pro quo sexual harassment is relatively common and it can be damaging to those on the receiving end. 

Has your boss approached you at the party and said you may receive a promotion if you grant their sexual request? Have they claimed that your job may be at risk if you do not do as they say? This is quid pro quo harassment and it is unlawful in Missouri. 

What are your options? 

If a work party has been organized by your employer, then they are still responsible for your safety. Sexual harassment is never acceptable in any format. If you’ve been subjected to this sort of behavior, be sure to explore your legal options in further detail.