When you think of sexual harassment, you probably imagine someone touching you inappropriately or threatening to terminate you unless you provide sexual favors. Although these are the most extreme types of sexual harassment, they are not the only unacceptable behaviors you may experience.
It is important to know all the forms of sexual harassment so you can recognize it when it happens to you. You do not have to put up with any level of harassing behavior, no matter how normal or small it may seem. Remember that these actions can come from other women, too, not just from men.
Harassment does not have to be physical. It includes verbal statements meant to hurt you or make you feel uncomfortable. These entail sexual jokes, crude gestures and sexist speech. Such language turns your workplace into a hostile environment.
Has a coworker or boss tried involving you in sexual media? Examples include:
- Showing you pornography
- Displaying pornographic or derogatory photos in work spaces
- Sending you suggestive texts or nude selfies
- Requesting you to participate in sexting
If any of these occur, keep all messages and document all instances as evidence. Do not respond in any way that would make it appear that the behavior does not bother you.
Endless date requests
When you turn someone down for a date or other romantic or sexual activity, the person must respect your answer. Sexual harassment covers someone continuing to hound you to go out with him or her or to engage in any other sexual activity when you have made it clear you are not interested. Even if the person insists it is just teasing, it is not acceptable if you do not want it.
If you are unsure whether or not you are suffering from sexual harassment, ask yourself if the physical or verbal behavior is unwanted, affects your employment (such as losing your job or a promotion) or creates an unbearable work environment. If you answer yes to any of these, you may have a case.