Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace is not uncommon — and according to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, it is a form of discrimination that violates the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Every employee has the right to work in a safe environment without fearing harassment of any kind. If you’ve been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, here’s what you need to know:
What is a Hostile Work Environment?
A hostile work environment is created when a co-worker or supervisor displays inappropriate behaviors that make it difficult for you to perform your job. While you may have a boss who is obnoxious or a co-worker that is rude — which does not make for an ideal work environment — it does not necessarily meet the legal requirements of a hostile work environment. A hostile work environment can be defined as the following:
- Behaviors that are discriminatory against age, gender, sexual orientation, disability, or race.
- Any reasonable person would find the work environment abusive or hostile.
- The behavior has become a persistent problem.
- The employer knows about the problem and has failed to address the behavior.
- The victim’s ability to work has been negatively impacted.
Signs of Sexual Harassment
While some signs of sexual harassment are blatantly identifiable, others may be subtle. Here are some common tactics sexual harassers use against their victims:
- Standing too close and being “touchy.”
- Making sexually suggestive comments.
- Tries to engage the victim in sexually charged conversations.
- Asking the victim about personal sexual experiences or sharing their own.
- Frequently asking the victim for dates or to meet outside of work after being turned down repeatedly.
- Sharing pornographic materials.
How You Can Stop Sexual Harassment
Sometimes telling the harasser to stop the behavior and letting them know that their advances are not welcome does not stop the harassment from occurring. If you’ve repeatedly tried to resolve the issue on your own or have alerted your supervisor of the harassment and it still continues, you may have no recourse other than taking legal action.