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How Do I Know If I Am Being Sexually Harassed?

On Behalf of | Jul 20, 2023 | Workplace Discrimination

Workplace relations can go from professional, to friendly, to overly friendly whether you want them to or not. Sometimes a worker’s words or actions go so far as to constitute sexual harassment. What is sexual harassment, and how does it affect workers who are subjected to it?

Forms of sexual harassment

Sexual harassment is an umbrella term for many actions, all of which involve unwanted visual, verbal or physical sexual attention. This can be physical contact that is nonconsensual. However, it can also include actions such as making a promotion or demotion contingent on accommodating sexual requests, making sexual jokes, discussing sex in the workplace, sending sexually explicit photos or emails and indecent exposure.

Sexual harassment can be subtle

Sexual harassment can be subtle. Victims of harassment may simply try to ignore it or may feel gas-lighted into believing something was not harassment when it was. Victims of harassment may even feel pressured to comply with sexual requests even though they would rather not.

This can cause a significant amount of stress on a worker. The emotional toll is great. Workers who are victims of sexual harassment might be angry, afraid, ashamed, guilty or feel powerless. This can lead to anxiety and depression, or even physical ailments such as headaches, fatigue and difficulty sleeping and eating.

You have rights against sexual harassment

For these reasons, workers should know that they have the right to be free from sexual harassment in the workplace. Those who are sexually harassed at work may file a claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Alternatively, they might decide to learn more about whether they can sue their employer for the harm caused by sexual harassment in the workplace.