Sexual harassment is a sadly common phenomenon in workplaces across the United States, with more than 25,000 sexual harassment claims reported to the EEOC every year. Unfortunately, however, many time sexual harassment goes unreported and unaddressed, in part because people do not recognize the signs. Here are five signs of sexual harassment you should watch for in the workplace:
- Inappropriate use of sexual jokes or language
- One potential sign of sexual harassment is that someone uses inappropriately sexual language, or make inappropriate jokes, in the workplace. This could involve simply making rude jokes or references in general, outside of an appropriate context. It could also include more explicit references to other workers, including discussion of their sexual activity outside of work, whether real or imagined.
- Inappropriate requests for romantic/sexual attention
- Another classic sign of sexual harassment is that someone will make inappropriate requests for romantic or sexual attention. This could be as simple as a request for a hug or a date, to an outright proposition for sexual favors. This can become especially problematic if the harasser holds a position of authority over their target, since they can use their power to punish anyone who refuses to comply with them.
- Lack of respect for personal space
- Another potential sign that someone may be engaging in sexual harassment is that they do not respect others’ personal space, especially that of the opposite sex. This may include getting uncomfortably close for no reason, or it could mean making unwanted physical contact. Anything from unwanted massages, to groping, hugging, or kissing could all be considered forms of sexual harassment.
- Change in attitude to people based on gender or sexual orientation
- Another potential sign of sexual harassment is that someone changes their attitude towards others based on the person’s gender or sexual orientation. This could include being more friendly towards the kinds of people that person is attracted to, or being more aggressive or confrontational towards those that do not respond to signs of sexual attraction. They may also generally become more hostile towards LGBT people, or anyone that does not conform to gender norms.
- Retaliating against employees that report harassment
- Finally, a major sign that a company is not handling sexual harassment well is that it retaliates againt anyone who reports it. People who report sexual harassment or discrimination in their workplace are protected by law, just as victims of harassment are. If you have been the victim of sexual harasment, or were punished for reporting harassment, you should speak to a lawyer as soon as possible.
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 41 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.