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Recognizing the Signs of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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Being the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace can be both enraging and humiliating. Everyone has the right to be treated with respect while they are on the job, and sexual harassment is a direct violation of that right. Unfortunately, many victims may not know whether the behavior they have been subjected to is a clear case of sexual harassment. And when the perpetrator is in a position of greater authority, there may be an impulse to brush it off for fear of some form of retaliation.

However, there are indeed clear signs of this type of behavior. When it becomes severe or frequent enough that it results in a hostile work environment or adverse employment decisions for its victims, sexual harassment is outright unlawful. It is important to know how to recognize the signs of sexual harassment so that you can take steps to hold the guilty party accountable.

Receiving Different Treatment Based on Your Sex

Sexual harassment does not necessarily need to be explicitly sexual in nature. In fact, at its core, sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination. If you or others are being treated in a way that is different from workers of another gender, such as a woman being taken less seriously than the men in the office, you may be the victim of sexual harassment.

Unwelcome Physical Contact

Another form of sexual harassment occurs when another employee or supervisor touches you in a way that you do not want. Examples include:

  • Someone brushing up against you
  • Someone rubbing your shoulders
  • Someone hugging you
  • Someone touching your hair
  • Someone touching you with an object
  • Someone using their body to block a doorway when you are attempting to pass

Sometimes, a colleague may attempt to minimize these events by claiming that they happened by accident or that they meant no harm. Nevertheless, if you do not welcome this touching and it makes you uncomfortable, the other party has no right to engage in these actions.

Sexual Jokes or Images

Sexual harassment may not take on a physical form at all. In fact, sometimes it happens when someone shares “jokes” or “pranks” with you that are sexual in nature. This can include

  • Text messages
  • Emails
  • Cartoons
  • Memes
  • Videos
  • Drawings

As with some forms of touching, the perpetrator may attempt to minimize this type of behavior as “harmless.” However, if they make you feel uncomfortable in your own workplace, the harm has already been done.

Requests for Sexual Favors

One of the most obvious forms of sexual harassment occurs when an individual who is in a position of power offers something of benefit to an employee, such as a promotion or a raise, in exchange for a sexual favor. Alternatively, the employer may threaten the employee with disciplinary action or firing if the employee does not agree to go out on a date or engage in sexual acts with them.

There Are Complaints from Multiple People

If you are not the only person who has been on the receiving end of these types of behaviors in the workplace, it can be easier to establish a clear pattern of abuse. This can help to strengthen any sexual harassment claim you may have.

Contact an Experienced Riverside Employment Lawyer Today

If you have been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, it is important to hold those responsible to account. The Riverside, CA, attorneys of Wagner Zemming Christensen, LLP, have the experience, knowledge, and skills necessary to fight for your best interests every step of the way. Contact us online today or call us at 951-686-4800 for a consultation and let us get to work for you.

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