What counts as workplace sexual harassment?
There are many examples of sexual harassment in the workplace, and no worker should ever have to go through it. If you think you are being harassed, trust your instincts and trust your gut. When something feels off, it generally is.
That said, you do want to know what types of harassment tend to happen so that you can know what signs to look for and what steps to take when you see them. To that end, let’s look at just a few of the most common examples.
Inappropriate contact and touching
This type of touching doesn’t have to be extreme or explicit. It could simply make you uncomfortable. A female worker may notice that a male worker always touches the small of her back as he walks behind her, for instance, or a male worker may feel that a female coworker gives him too many long hugs when they see each other. If you ask someone to stop and they won’t, you need to know what to do next.
Sharing explicit material
Physical contact is absolutely not required for harassment to take place. If a coworker sends you explicit pictures or text messages, that’s harassment. They may also tell inappropriate jokes; even if these aren’t told directly to you, they could just be told in a general area where you can’t avoid them. Sexual material that makes you uncomfortable has no place at work.
Asking for sexual favors or a relationship
In some cases, a supervisor will attempt to get sexual favors from a worker by offering them something in exchange — such as a promotion. They could also imply that the worker should go along with their request or risk firing. Simply asking someone out usually doesn’t count as harassment, but even it can if the request is turned down and the person continues to ask.
So what should you do?
Have you been harassed in any of these ways? You have legal protections and you must know about all of the options at your disposal. They can help you put an end to this behavior and protect your career.