Pretty much everyone knows that all forms of harassment in the workplace are illegal. In fact, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits any form of harassment at work, including sexual harassment. Unfortunately, sexual harassment is still rampant at work. But, how do you tell that you are being sexually harassed at work?
Obviously, offensive behaviors like groping or unwanted kissing are clear signs of sexual harassment. But what about those subtle signs? Knowing how to detect acts of behaviors that amount to sexual harassment at work can help you safeguard your rights and pursue justice if the behavior persists.
Physical behaviors that qualify as sexual harassment
Physical behaviors may seem straightforward. These can include touching the genital area, breasts or butt, or even rape attempts. But what about the team leader or colleague who routinely offers unsolicited shoulder massage? Well, if these actions make you uncomfortable, they may amount to sexual harassment. Unwelcome touching, patting or getting uncomfortably close can all pass for harassment. If these behaviors persist, it is important that you register your disapproval with the perpetrator.
Verbal behaviors that amount to sexual harassment
You can be sexually harassed at work too. Some of the verbal behaviors that may amount to harassment include:
- Use of unprofessional and derogatory pet names like “babe,” “sugar,” “hunk” or “stud” at work
- Comments about your appearance that are sexual in nature
- Questions regarding your sexual fantasies, preferences and experience
- Interrupting work-related discussions with sexually-oriented stories, jokes or other sexually-charged noises like howling or kissing sounds.
Non-verbal sexual harassment behaviors
There are times when a colleague or someone superior may engage in non-verbal behaviors that are sexual in nature. These may include:
- Leering at you suggestively
- Following you around (stalking) or blocking your movements at work
- Winking at you in a suggestive manner
- Sharing suggestive content like images, videos and text against your will
No one deserves to be subjected to any form of harassment at work. Find out how you can safeguard your rights and interests if you are sexually harassed at work.