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How can I identify sexual harassment at work?

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On Behalf of | Jun 1, 2021 | Blog, Sexual Harassment

While you might think it is easy to identify sexual harassment in the workplace, this is not always so. Even if you are subject to hostile behaviors, you might have difficulty identifying them when they occur to you.

EqualRights.org provides examples of sexual harassment at work, so you can readily recognize them when they occur. While it is up to your employer to prevent an unwelcoming and unsafe environment, you must also take swift action when problematic behaviors happen to you.

Offensive jokes or comments

Sexual harassment is often hard to detect when it comes in the form of offensive jokes or comments. A co-worker or supervisor might relate a supposedly harmless joke that traffics in stereotypes about your gender or sexual orientation. It can entail slurs or offensive nicknames, as well as offensive images or electronic transmissions, such as memes. It can also make broad assumptions of a sexual nature about a group of people.

Bullying

Bullying creates a hostile, uncomfortable environment at work. This especially true when bullying is sexually based or focused on the sexual characteristics of the victim. Workplace bullying hurts everyone, including the employer. It can also make the victim feel extremely unwelcome, which can lead to serious psychological effects if the issue is not resolved.

Unwanted romantic advances

Repeated romantic advances, such as requests for dates, are a classic example of sexual harassment. These requests can come from a co-worker, supervisor, boss, consultant, and virtually any participant at a place of work. Unwanted physical advances, such as hugging, groping, or touching, is also construed as sexual harassment.

Most importantly, it does not matter how the harasser views their conduct. Even if they believe their actions have no impact, it is still sexual harassment if they participate in any of the above.