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What is verbal sexual harassment?

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There are many things that may contribute to an unpleasant, offensive or hostile work environment, and one of them is sexual harassment. While many news articles and pop culture references portray sexual harassment as unwanted touching or physical assault, other behaviors may qualify as well.

If you experience certain types of unwelcome verbal conduct of a sexual nature at work, you may able to file a sexual harassment claim to get the behavior to stop. Sometimes, even jokes or personal stories may qualify as harassment.

Sexual harassment includes many types of verbal communication

According to RAINN, there are numerous circumstances where sexual harassment may occur. You may experience harassment no matter what your gender identity is or what your relationship to the harasser is. Some common types of verbal harassment include unwelcome sexual advances or requests for sexual favors. If someone in your office states or implies that your employment or advancement depends on sexual favors, that is another form of harassment.

Jokes about sexual orientation or sexual acts may qualify as harassment. Another type of verbal sexual harassment at work includes describing sexual fantasies or telling stories of sexual encounters. It is also possible to experience harassment through other forms of communication, such as emails and text messages.

Victims may not always be the targets of harassment

It is often easy to spot sexual harassment when you are the target of unwanted advances, the recipient of unsolicited sexual emails or the subject of jokes about sexual orientation. However, you do not necessarily have to be the harasser’s target in order to experience sexual harassment. If you are negatively affected by offensive sexual jokes, stories or threats (even those directed at others), you may be able to file a complaint.