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Sexual harassment at work? How to spot this behavior

No one ever wants to believe that they are being harassed sexually, but it does happen. The signs are not always obvious, which can create confusion as to whether someone is actually sexually harassing you. If someone is making you uncomfortable at work, it may be because they are behaving in a sexually harassing manner.

Is it sexual harassment?

Contrary to popular belief, it is not always easy to recognize sexual harassment. Workplace sexual harassment often is displayed as one pressuring another into sexual acts, but in reality, can include a multitude of different types of incidents. These are some examples of sexual harassment in the workplace:

  • Jokes, dirty or sexual in nature, made on your behalf
  • Pressuring you into performing sexual favors
  • Any form of unwanted touching
  • Distributing or displaying sexual images

It is important to note that this list is not all-encompassing. There may be forms of sexual harassment that are warranted and need to be reported.

Not all harassment needs to be sexual in nature

While it may be more common to think of sexual harassment in the manner described above, harassment can include any type of offense against an individual's sex. Here are a few examples of sexual harassment that are not innately "sexual":

  • Making offensive comments about a person's sex
  • Frequent remarks, either verbal or written, that create a hostile work environment

What to do if you think you are being sexually harassed

Do not ignore it. If one or more of the things listed above are happening to you, or you have another reason to think you are being sexually harassed, let the guilty party know you find their behavior offensive. This may solve the issue, but if it does not, seek out your employer's policy on harassment in the workplace. It may be wise to keep record of incidents of harassment, as they can be used as evidence.

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It can be hard to take the first steps in these cases when your livelihood is at stake, but know that you have rights available to you. Let us help you determine what you can do to bring an end to your employer's unlawful behavior.