The Line Between Friendliness and Sexual Harassment

We spend eight hours or more in the workplace every day, so it’s only natural for us to develop in-office friendships with the people we spend our time around the most. From happy hours to holiday parties, many co-workers, bosses, vendors, and customers can get acquainted on personal levels. However, how can you tell if the line from friendliness has crossed over to sexual harassment? Here are the warning signs you need to know.

Unwanted Compliments/Comments

It’s always nice when a co-worker or boss gives you a compliment. However, if a colleague is suddenly making comments that make you uncomfortable, this could be a red flag. A person who is being sexually harassed may be subject to the following behaviors from their harasser:

  • Making inappropriate comments about your clothing and body.
  • Asking about your personal sexual experiences.
  • Sharing their personal sexual experiences.
  • Attempts to engage you in sexually-charged conversations.

Flirting Behaviors

While some may consider flirting in the workplace harmless, there are some blatant signs that the office flirtation is turning into sexual harassment. If your co-worker or boss is frequently complimenting you, consistently asking to meet outside of work, or persistently asking for dates even after repeatedly turning them down, these are strong indications of sexual harassment.

Inappropriate Touching

We all have boundaries of what we will tolerate when it comes to our personal space. While the touch of a formal handshake is considered appropriate, other forms of touching or standing too close can cross the line of sexual harassment. Offensive touching behavior may include:

  • Physical contact with intimate body parts
  • Touching hair
  • Rubbing your arm or shoulders
  • Grabbing or prolonged hugging

If you’ve experienced sexual harassment in the workplace and have not been able to solve the problem by reporting the incident to your supervisor or human resources department, we can help.

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