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Spotting signs of sexual harassment at your job

On Behalf of | Apr 8, 2024 | Sexual Harassment

People may struggle to recognize when they have experienced inappropriate conduct in the workplace. Given that sexual harassment can involve a broad assortment of (often subtle) behaviors, any reasonable person may struggle to identify when the conduct of co-workers violates their rights unless there is particularly egregious misconduct involved, like non-consensual touching.

There are several warning signs that people sometimes overlook initially that could indicate sexual harassment in the workplace. They may then experience harassment that slowly worsens over time. Workers may eventually need to file sexual harassment lawsuits over an employer’s inaction or retaliation once they better understand what is going on. The following, for example, could be indicators of an unhealthy work environment.

Unwanted advances

Flirting that makes someone seriously uncomfortable can cross the line into sexual harassment. Especially when someone has clearly informed others that certain conduct makes them uncomfortable, continued flirting and advances could constitute harassment. Sometimes, the other party is in a position of authority, which might eventually lead to quid pro quo harassment. They could offer some kind of job benefits in return for someone’s unwilling participation in questionable behavior.

Inappropriate jokes or lewd images

If someone constantly over here is coworkers making inappropriate jokes at the water cooler or in the lunch room, that can quickly make them feel unwelcome and unsafe in the workplace. Additionally, posting lewd images and overly-sexualized graphics in plain view of other workers or displaying them on computer monitors could be indicators of workplace sexual harassment.

Targeted exclusion

Other employees may exclude or isolate someone experiencing sexual harassment on the job. Such workplace alienation is often part of a hostile work environment. Especially when co-workers reference someone’s sex or sexuality as the basis for excluding them from work socialization or related activities, that could be a sign of harassment.

Improper company responses

Employers notified of sexual harassment should act quickly to address the situation. They can discipline or retrain workers. Penalties including termination could also be a solution. Sadly, many employers fail to respond to harassment or punish the person who reported it instead of those violating that person’s rights.

Employees who are able to identify when the misconduct of others crosses the line and becomes workplace sexual harassment can potentially take action to stop the harassment. Fighting back against workplace sexual harassment can lead to a healthier work environment and possibly even compensation for anyone who has been targeted.