Colleen Sewell – Sexual harassment in the workplace is something that is both uncomfortable and hurtful. But it is also unlawful.
The all-too-common practice is something that there has been increasing publicity and can apply to both lower level employees, mainly women, but as a recent report indicated it can also happen with powerful women. No one, it would seem, is exempt from the threat of such illegal workplace practice.
Although there is great awareness of the issue and some excellent workplace health and safety training courses available such as the HIPAA exams, the issue is one that requires careful monitoring for workplace issues involving sexual harassment.
However, sexual harassment is all-too-common. In fact, roughly 54 percent of women in the workforce experience sexual harassment at work during the year. But despite the fact that sexual harassment is very common, many people don’t actually know if they’re being sexually harassed or not in a number of different circumstances.
Here are 10 signs that you might be experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace. Hopefully this can clear things up for you if you feel that you might be experiencing sexual harassment at work.
- There is unwanted physical contact
This can include a person rubbing your shoulders, giving you exaggerated hugs, leaning up against you, touching your hands, touching your back, etc. There are many different types of physical contact that can qualify. Any type of physical contact can potentially qualify as sexual harassment, particularly if you have asked the person not to do it.
- People tell inappropriate jokes of a sexual nature around you regularly
Even if the person who is telling these inappropriate sexual jokes around you has never made a sexual or romantic advance toward you, such jokes can still qualify as sexual-harassment. These jokes are not limited to jokes told in conversation. They can also include jokes that are told through emails, texts, or other means of communication.
- A coworker repeatedly makes romantic advances toward you despite you saying “no”
Although many companies frown upon workplace relationships, it is not technically against the law to date a coworker. So, if a coworker asks you out, it does not constitute sexual harassment. However, if that person continues to pressure you to go out on a date with him or her after you have already said no, then this can qualify as sexual harassment.
- A coworker shares unwanted sexual information with you
This could be everything from the details of a sexual encounter they had the previous weekend to sending you inappropriate pictures of themselves. No one has to deal with being presented with this kind of unwanted sexual information and it can definitely be considered sexual harassment.
- Someone asked you for a sexual favor
Oftentimes, people in positions of power try to use their power as leverage to get sexual favors. For example, a manager or a boss may request a sexual favor in exchange for a promotion or better hours. Sometimes, these people also will request a sexual favor to prevent firing the employee. If any of these things are happening to you, then you might be experiencing sexual harassment at work.
- You are being constantly leered at
Despite the fact that leering may not be as severe a form of sexual harassment as inappropriate touching or requesting sexual favors, it can still definitely count as sexual harassment. For example, if a coworker is constantly staring at your breasts, this can qualify as sexual harassment.
- You do not feel comfortable at work
This is perhaps the greatest sign that you are being sexually harassed at work. It may be difficult for you to pinpoint exactly what is going wrong, or whether or not a harassment policy is being violated, but you just don’t feel comfortable. In many circumstances, instincts and feelings are correct. So, if you have noticed yourself feeling very uncomfortable at work, then you should listen to your feelings and try to do something about the situation.
The first thing that you should do if you feel you are experiencing sexual harassment at your job is to bring it to the attention of your boss, unless your boss is the one doing the sexual harassment.
If he or she is, then you can bring it up to HR, or to a manager. If the situation is not resolved, then you should strongly consider speaking to an employment sexual harassment lawyer. Employment lawyers can help to defend you against sexual harassment and to recover damages if you are entitled to them. Hopefully, taking these actions will resolve your sexual harassment issues.