If you experience sexual harassment in the workplace, you will want to take appropriate action. However, you might have questions as to what actually constitutes words or actions that rise to the level of sexual harassment.
Several key markers can help you identify when a co-worker or boss treats you in an unacceptable manner.
Harassment vs. inappropriate behavior
An article in Money Crashers identifies the line between sexual harassment and inappropriate workplace behavior. The latter refers to instances of flirtation that do not have a harmful impact on your work environment or your ability to do your job. It could involve a request to go out for drinks after work or could involve questionable jokes or topics.
This type of activity begins to cross the line when it continues even after you have requested the person to stop. In many ways, sexual harassment defies an absolute definition, but these markers often indicate the presence of illegal harassment of a sexual nature:
- Unwelcome touching of an intimate nature
- Repeated comments about clothing or appearance
- The sharing of sexual or offensive images
- The use of crude language
How you feel about such activities provides a good indication of whether the behavior rises to the level of harassment. If these actions impact your ability to sleep at night or your work performance, you likely have the right to file a sexual harassment complaint.
Harassment vs. assault
Sexual harassment can lead to sexual assault, a more egregious criminal offense. This involves instances of attempted rape, forced touching and other similar actions. In this case, you should file a criminal complaint with the police department. Protecting your workplace rights depends in part on your understanding of sexual harassment.