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Identifying Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment is a sadly common phenomenon seen in workplaces throughout New York and the rest of the country. Despite how common it is, though, not everyone recognizes sexual harassment when they see it. Here are some of the most common forms of sexual harassment seen in workplace settings:

  1. Inappropriate physical contact
    • One of the most obvious forms of sexual harassment is when someone attempts to make physical contact with someone that is not appropriate for the workplace. This could include unwanted pinching or groping, as well as unasked-for massages. These sorts of actions may not be explicitly sexual, but nevertheless make victims incredibly uncomfortable.
  2. Disrespecting people’s personal space
    • Even when sexual harassers are not making direct physical contact, they can still harass people by violating their personal space. This can come about from simply standing too close to someone for no apparent reason, or it can involve someone getting overly close when assisting with another task. It can also involve them monitoring their activities without justification, literally or figuratively watching over a victim’s shoulder.
  3. Making inappropriate comments towards, or about, someone
    • Sexual harassment can also come in the form of inappropriate comments, either made about the victim to others or directed at the victim themselves. This can include comments about their weight, appearance, or attractiveness, as well as any other aspect of their personal lives. Even when not directed at a victim, these comments can be harmful and become a detriment to their ability to work in peace.
  4. Spreading rumors about a person’s romantic or sexual life
    • Instead of making comments about someone, a sexual harasser may spread rumors about a person’s romantic or sexual life. These rumors may or may not be based in fact, but their primary purpose is to embarrass and harass the employee. Depending on the nature of the rumors, they could even have negative professional repercussions, causing significant harm to the victim.
  5. Sending inappropriately suggestive or explicit media
    • Suffice it to say that sexually suggestive or explicit media, such as photos and videos, are not usually appropriate for the workplace. What makes them go from being merely inappropriate to a potential case of harassment is when someone chooses to share them with someone else. Even when intended merely for humor or entertainment purposes, this kind of inappropriate sharing of media is considered a form of seual harassment.
  6. Making unwanted sexual advances
    • Technically speaking, workplace romance is not always forbidden, unless company policy says otherwise. However, what is inappropriate is making sexual advances on someone when they are clearly uncomfortable with it. Making unwanted sexual advances is a type of sexual harassment, and a potentially pernicious one at that.
  7. Demanding sexual favors
    • Demanding someone perform sexual favors in exchange for professional assistance is not only a form of sexual harassment, it is a potential crime. Nevertheless, a disturbing number of people seem to think this behavior is acceptable in the workplace. If that happens, one of the best things you can do is contact a lawyer with knowledge of labor law who can help you deal with the situation.

If you have gotten into a legal dispute with your employer, it is important that you seek the guidance of an experienced New York employment lawyer who can protect your legal rights and advocate on your behalf. Steven Mitchell Sack, the Employee’s Lawyer, is a New York employment lawyer with more than 40 years’ experience handling the many aspects of employment law. To schedule an appointment with New York City employment lawyer Steven Mitchell Sack, call (917) 371-8000 or visit his contact page.

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