With increased public awareness regarding incidents of sexual assault and harassment among Hollywood actors, producers, and directors, more employees and employers are taking the steps needed to prevent it from becoming a problem in their own workplace. While some situations offer clear cut evidence of inappropriate behavior, there are likely still plenty of people hiding behind the defense that their attitudes, actions, or comments are “just a joke” and not intended to offend or violate anyone’s rights. To help you identify when sexual harassment in the workplace is occurring, we have gathered the following information and tips.
What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in The Workplace?
The “Me too Movement” has given victims of sexual assault and harassment a platform for speaking out, but it can still prove difficult addressing this type of behavior in the workplace. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), sexual harassment can affect men or women and includes a variety of different actions and attitudes meant to threaten, intimidate, embarrass, or discriminate others. It may involve physical contact, such as assault or groping, as well as comments, gestures, and other discriminatory behaviors.
While it is against the law, the fact is it happens frequently in the workplace and often involves coworkers who may not even be aware that their behavior or their attitudes are offensive to others. Regardless of their motives, individual perpetrators of sexual harassment and business owners in general can be held liable for creating a hostile work environment through a civil claim for damages, particularly if they are aware that the issue exists and do nothing to address it. How can you tell for sure if sexual harassment is a problem in your workplace? Here are some signs:
- There is behavior occurring that makes you uncomfortable. This may include a coworker or manager who stands too close, requests repeatedly that you meet them after work, or insists on telling you about their own sexual experiences.
- There are behaviors you do not like but feel pressured to go along with. Examples include a supervisor or other superior who makes comments about your appearance, or groups of coworkers who gather near your work area, laughing and trading stories about sexual matters.
- There are behaviors you are not able to make stop. This includes a coworker who continues telling you dirty jokes despite your requests or when your boss fails to address previous complaints.
- You feel uncertain about making a complaint. Perhaps you fear punishment for speaking up, or your employer has no reporting procedures in place.
Contact a Lawyer for Help Today
Going through sexual harassment on the job can be a frightening and isolating experience, but it is important to realize you are not alone. Reach out and contact a lawyer, like a discrimination litigation lawyer in Washington, DC from Eric Siegel Law, and request a confidential consultation with an experienced sexual harassment attorney. He or she can help protect your rights while advising you on the best course of legal action in your particular case.