What Constitutes Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

Everybody has the right to work without fear of being harassed physically, mentally, or sexually. However, statistics suggest that between 54% and 81% of women have experienced some kind of sexual harassment at work. Around 43% of men also report being harassed in their place of work. 

Physical Sexual Harassment

When talking about sexual harassment, most people think of physical abuse. This can range from unwelcome bodily contact (such as hugs or touching) to body searches by a member of a different sex, as well as sexual assault and rape. If you have been physically or sexually harassed, report it as soon as possible. California workplace sexual harassment statistics show that more people than you might expect are experiencing sexual harassment and that advice from employment lawyers on each individual case can help you decide on the best route to take.

Verbal Sexual Harassment

Although many people automatically think of physical abuse when talking of sexual harassment in the workplace, verbal sexual harassment can be equally harmful. Comments and innuendos (including those which may be passed off as a joke), asking personal questions about someone’s sex life, making sexual comments about someone’s clothes, appearance, or body, and asking about someone’s sexual orientations or fantasies are all examples of sexual harassment and are not acceptable. Wolf whistling also falls under this category.

Non-Verbal Sexual Harassment

Behaviors such as staring, ogling, and giving suggestive looks or unwelcome gestures can all be examples of non-verbal sexual harassment. Indecent exposure and other suggestive body language are other examples. Non-verbal sexual harassment should be taken as seriously as other forms.

Quid Pro Quo Sexual Harassment

Quid pro quo sexual harassment is usually instigated by someone in a position of power such as a manager or CEO. The perpetrator uses their status to offer rewards to someone (or a group of people) who comply with their sexual requests. They may also threaten to punish anyone who does not comply, such as saying refusal to follow their instructions will result in dismissal.

How To Report Sexual Harassment

Any form of sexual harassment is unacceptable and if you are being sexually harassed at work you should report it. If your company has a policy in place around harassment, follow their recommended procedure. You may also speak to a Sex Crimes Lawyer in San Francisco if you feel this is appropriate. In serious cases, you may also choose to report it to the police and contact a lawyer to discuss your employment rights.

How To Look After Yourself If You Are Being Sexually Harassed

Although it can be hard, speaking openly about your experience can be cathartic as well as being the first step to justice. Speak to a friend, colleague, or family member you trust, and allow yourself to explore your emotions freely. Be gentle with yourself and remember you are not to blame.

Sexual harassment is never okay. You deserve to be able to work in a safe, secure environment without fear of abuse. Everyone does.

Christopher Stern

Christopher Stern is a Washington-based reporter. Chris spent many years covering tech policy as a business reporter for renowned publications. He has extensive experience covering Congress, the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commissions. He is a graduate of Middlebury College. Email:[email protected]

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