Sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious concern and workers do not have to tolerate it. Employees should be able to recognize sexual harassment in their workplaces and be familiar with the protections against it.
Examples of sexual harassment
There are several different ways victims may suffer harassment in the workplace including:
- Making conditions of employment or advancement dependent on sexual favors, which can be done either explicitly or implicitly;
- Requests for sexual favors;
- Verbal harassment that is sexual in nature such as jokes that are sexual in nature that refer to sexual acts or sexual orientation;
- Discussions of sexual relationships, stories and fantasies at work, school or in other inappropriate places;
- Unwanted sexually explicit photos, emails or text messages;
- Unwanted touching or physical contact;
- Unwelcome sexual advances;
- Physical acts of sexual assault;
- Feeling pressure to engage in a sexual relationship; and
- Exposing oneself in the workplace.
Sexual harassment can occur when an employee is pressured to engage in a sexual relationship or to tolerate unwelcome sexual advances in exchange for advancement at work or for the employer refraining from taking some negative action against the employee such as firing them. Sexual harassment can also occur when sexually harassing behaviors in the workplace are pervasive enough that they create a hostile workplace environment.
Employment laws provide important protections for employees suffering from sexual harassment in the workplace. Regardless of how sexual harassment manifests itself, victims impacted by it should be familiar with what it looks like and what they can do about it.