You love your new place of employment, but there’s a problem. One of the coworkers that you need to be around frequently keeps commenting on your looks. It seemed harmless at first, since they were saying they liked your hair or a certain part of your outfit, but now that has turned into comments with unwanted touching.
You didn’t mind someone saying your hair looked nice, but running their hands through it is totally different. The same is true about suddenly lifting up a pendant that is hanging around your neck. It all feels very invasive.
You could be a victim of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment is defined as unwanted physical or verbal conduct, requests for sexual favors and unwanted sexual advances. Harassment may be sexually motivated if it:
- Is made explicit that sexual favors are a term of employment, participation in a University program, living conditions or education
- Interferes with an individual’s employment or performance by creating a hostile or offensive work, living or educational environment
- Is something the harasser expects you to put up with as a condition that will aid in decisions about employment, University activities, education or living environments
You may think that your situation falls into a gray area, and it may. In fact, sometimes talking to the person and making them aware of how uncomfortable you are will help prevent them from continuing to act that way.
If they don’t stop, though, you may have a case.
What are some examples of sexual harassment?
Some examples of sexual harassment include:
- Making obscene gestures
- Making suggestive letters, invitations or notes
- Impeding movements, touching or otherwise interfering with a person’s normal work
- Threats or the insinuated understanding that not providing sexual favors will harm work performance
- Sexually oriented gestures, posters, cartoons, memes, or other illustrations or photographs
If you haven’t said anything to the harasser, can a situation still be sexual harassment?
Yes, it can. You don’t have to say anything to the other person to object to their behavior before it will be seen as sexual harassment, so long as it falls under the definition of sexual harassment. However, it’s usually a good idea to voice your displeasure with their actions. Doing this could be a good step to get them to stop. You don’t have to confront your harasser, though, so it is up to you to decide how to react in the situation. If you want to pursue a claim later, your attorney can help you make sure it is reported correctly.