Helping Individuals Who Have Been Hurt By Others

Sexual harassment in the workplace: What is it and when to take action

On Behalf of | Mar 1, 2024 | Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is an umbrella term for behaviors that are unwanted, unwelcome and offensive. These behaviors can include pervasive verbal comments, gestures, physical contact and other forms of communication that create a hostile or uncomfortable work environment.

Sexual harassment in the workplace is a concerning issue that can have profound effects on victims’ well-being, professional success and overall work environment.

Sexual harassment: The basics

It’s important to acknowledge that sexual harassment can happen between individuals of any gender and can involve a perpetrator in a position of power or authority over the victim. Types of sexual harassment employees may experience can include:

  • Quid pro quo: This is when a person in a position of authority seeks sexual favors in exchange for employment benefits or advancement opportunities
  • Hostile work environment: In this scenario, the workplace becomes hostile or intimidating due to pervasive sexual jokes, comments or advances. This may create an environment that interferes with employees’ ability to perform their job duties.

Identifying sexual harassment in the workplace can be challenging, as it often takes subtle and nuanced forms. However, there are some common signs and behaviors that may indicate the presence of sexual harassment:

  • Unwanted advances: Persistent and unwanted sexual advances, comments or gestures from a coworker or supervisor
  • Inappropriate behavior: Behavior such as inappropriate touch or making sexual jokes that create a discomforting atmosphere
  • Retaliation for rejection: Instances where an individual faces retaliation or adverse consequences after rejecting or reporting sexual advances.

Once you recognize the signs, determining whether to take action against sexual harassment in the workplace can be a difficult decision. However, it’s essential to prioritize your safety, well-being and rights as an employee. Therefore, you shouldn’t hesitate to report the sexual harassment to your company’s human resources department. However, if sexual harassment persists despite reporting it internally, or if you face retaliation for speaking out, seeking external support may be necessary.

If you’re enduring sexual harassment in the workplace, you should remember that you are not alone, and there are resources available to help you advocate for your rights. By recognizing the signs and knowing your rights, you can assert your boundaries and take legal action in the event that what you’re experiencing is unlawful conduct.