What counts as sexual harassment?

Workplace sexual harassment has gone underreported for years. Part of the reason it was and still is allowed to prosper is a lack of knowledge. Many do not realize the full scope of what the term “sexual harassment” covers.

While there has been a lot of recent progress toward enlightenment about sexual harassment, there is still a long way to go. A better understanding of what sexual harassment refers to can help employers and employees prevent it from happening and take action when it does.

Sexual harassment can happen to anyone

When you think of sexual harassment at work, most people would think of a man harassing a woman. While this is the most frequent kind, it is not the only kind. Sexual harassment is not gender-restricted, and anyone can do it to anyone else. Here are some of the forms sexual harassment can take:

  • Physical: This can range from a lingering hand on a shoulder to brushing up against someone to much worse.
  • Verbal: This can cover many things, from unwanted “compliments” about appearance to “jokes” of a sexual nature to overly personal questions about your sexuality or insistent requests to go out with someone.
  • Quid pro quo: This is the classic you do something for me, and I’ll do something for you when what the person is asking you to do is sexual. The classic example is the Hollywood casting couch.
  • Non-contact: Inappropriate pictures or messages sent by email, cellphone, delivered by hand or posted on the wall can amount to sexual harassment.

You have the right to work without fear of someone sexually harassing you. Many perpetrators feel they have the power to do as they please. If they target you, you can use the power of the law to make them stop.