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Warning Signs of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

by Levin & Nalbandyan, LLP
March 27, 2019

Unfortunately, sexual harassment in the workplace still exists — even following the #MeToo movement and their attempt to put it to an end. While some forms of sexual harassment may be undeniable, others can be more subtle, leaving the victim confused and unsure about what they should do. Whether male or female, here are some red flags every employee needs to know.

Common Behaviors of Sexual Harassers

There are two types of sexual harassment in the workplace:

  1. Quid Pro Quo
    “Quid pro quo” is Latin for “this for that.” This type of harassment occurs when a supervisor hints or outwardly asks for sexual favors in return for employee benefits (i.e., trips, promotions, bonuses and/or raises).
  2. Hostile Work Environment
    Working in a hostile environment can make an employee feel uncomfortable, intimidated or threatened. This may include unwelcome sexual advances, jokes, and gestures of a sexual nature. A hostile work environment is not necessarily created by supervisors — co-workers, clients or other business-related associates may also forge an uncomfortable work atmosphere.

No matter what type of harassment a person endures, the harasser may use the following intimidating tactics:

  • Standing too close or being “touchy.”
  • Making inappropriate comments about your body or clothing.
  • Asking about your personal life and sexual experiences as well as talking about their own.
  • Frequently asked to meet alone outside of work or persistently asking for dates after you’ve repeatedly turned them down.
  • Exposes you to pornographic materials.
  • Tries to engage you in sexually charged conversations.

Common Behaviors of Victims

Victims of workplace sexual harassment may start to behave differently at work. Some common signs may include but are not limited to:

  • Feeling anxious
  • Socially withdrawn
  • Easily irritated
  • Problems concentrating
  • Quick tempered

How to Get Help

If you’ve repeatedly asked your harasser to stop the behavior and it’s still happening, it’s imperative to report it to a supervisor you are comfortable with, or to human resources. When reporting workplace sexual harassment, it’s crucial to record as many details about the incident(s) as possible should a lawsuit become necessary.

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