Just over two years ago, the #Metoo movement swept social media and several high-profile cases workplace sexual assault and harassment filled the headlines. When several popular television hosts like Matt Lauer, Bill O’Reilly and Charlie Rose all were dismissed because of several sexual harassment claims, people took notice and realized that sexual harassment was still a problem in the workplace.
Subtle sexual harassment
Yet, while it’s easy to understand that no one should be subject to unwelcome sexual advances, illicit emails or groping as happened in those cases, other forms of workplace sexual harassment are more subtle. You may not even realize them if you aren’t aware of them.
So, take note if you notice these forms of subtle sexual harassment at your workplace:
- Someone consistently invades your personal space and stands too close to you, in an intimate way.
- Some makes sexual comments about your body or consistently makes sexual remarks about other people’s bodies at work.
- Someone asks you about your personal life, including your romantic or sexual experiences.
- Someone consistently talks loudly about their own sexual experiences or always wants to engage you or others in talking about sexual topics.
- Someone shows you pornographic materials or displays pornographic materials at work.
- A superior flirts with you at work or bullies you to accept a dinner invitation.
Sexual harassment and toxic workplaces
A coworker telling a dirty joke occasionally doesn’t rise to the level of sexual harassment. The behavior needs to be repeated. It needs to make you or others feel uncomfortable. Sometimes, if the behavior is widespread among multiple colleagues, even if it is not aimed at you personally or at other colleagues, that still can be considered sexual harassment because it creates a hostile work environment.
If you have experienced sexual harassment at work, you should first report that to someone in human resources. If you feel too intimidated to do that or your complaint is not addressed, consult an employment law attorney. An attorney can help you determine if you have a case for sexual harassment.