Defending Your Business

5 Subtle Types Of Sexual Harassment You Don't Have To Take

Most Americans know that sexual harassment in the workplace is against the law. But do you know how to identify all the forms harassment may take? Some — like sexual assault, demands for sexual favors, or groping — are obvious, but actionable harassment is often more subtle. Here are a few of the easiest to overlook and why they matter. 

1. Crude and Sexual Jokes. A harasser often wants to get a rise out of their target. So they try tactics like making crude or sexual jokes in the person's presence. This is especially egregious if it's clear that the jokes are specifically made when the target is around. 

2. Commenting on Appearance. Most co-workers who spend a lot of time together become comfortable at least to the point of a casual friendship. But if a co-worker or boss goes beyond this and begins to regularly comment on how good a person looks, this casualness strays into the territory of harassment. While these remarks often seem like compliments, they are unwarranted and uncomfortable. 

3. Failure to Accept No. Perhaps a co-worker has come right out and asked you for a date or other potentially romantic encounter. You politely but firmly said no. This should be the end of the matter. Failure to take no for an answer turns into harassment. 

4. Lewd Materials. Another passive-aggressive technique harassers use is to circulate or display lewd and sexual material. This is again done to get a response out of their intended target. It might be a sexy pin-up poster in the break room, obscene photos in a text or email, or even crude graffiti in the bathroom. These materials can feature subjects of any gender and do not necessarily have to be addressed to you. 

5. Unwanted Touching. You have a right to your own personal space. And even in workplaces where things can get physically restricted or busy with people, you have a right not to be touched time and again in ways you aren't comfortable with. Inappropriate and unwanted touching is as subtle as a hand on your back, 'accidental' touches of personal body parts, or hugging. 

Where to Learn More

Have you experienced any of these subtle — but all too common — forms of sexual harassment? Are you unsure if what happened or continues to happen constitutes true sexual harassment? Find out by meeting with an experienced sexual harassment attorney in your state today.  

For more info, contact a local professional like Allen D. Arnold Attorney at Law.