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7 Signs You Are Being Sexually Harassed at Work

Sexual harassment is a serious issue in the workplace, with anywhere from 25-85% of women alone reporting experience with it. It can affect men and women of any age, race, or sexual orientation.

If you are a victim of sexual harassment at work, it can be challenging to know what to do, especially if you fear it may impact your employment. Many people are not sure what counts as sexual harassment, so they may not know if they are victims of harassment, not to mention whether they should report it or not.

This blog post will discuss seven signs that you are being sexually harassed at work and what to do if you see these behaviors happening in your place of employment.

If you think you're a victim of sexual harassment, legal action is an option. Keep reading to gain a better understanding of what sexual harassment is.

What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance, comment, question or physical contact. Sometimes it is perpetrated by a supervisor or manager, and sometimes by a coworker. Sexual harassment can occur through unwelcome physical touching, text messages, emails or verbal comments. Sexual harassment can have a devastating effect on mental health. It can cause feelings of humiliation, anger, and terror. It can lead to depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Victims may feel like they are being violated and may fear for their safety. They may also feel ashamed and embarrassed, leading to social isolation. Victims may feel scared or ashamed to speak up, or they may not know who to contact to report the incident. Employers may also try to sweep the issue under the rug to avoid negative publicity.

And when perpetrators are in positions of power, they can be difficult to discipline or fire. This adds to a culture of silence and acceptance of sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is unlawful. It is unlawful to harass a person (male or female) because of their sex.

If you are being sexually harassed at work, you should speak with an attorney about your legal rights. You may be entitled to receive monetary damages for the harm that has been done to you.

Verbal Harassment

Verbal sexual harassment at work includes inappropriate questions of a sexual nature, commenting on physical appearance, inappropriate questions or comments about one’s personal life, marriage or sexual habits. 

Physical Harassment

This type of harassment can include unwanted touching, kissing, hugging, or groping. It can also involve forcing someone to participate in sexual activity against their will.

The most common example is if an employee is physically groped or assaulted sexually. This abuse often leaves lasting psychological damage to the victim.

Visual Harassment

There are a few different types of visual sexual harassment in the workplace. One type of sexual harassment is persistent staring or leering at someone's body.

Another type of visual harassment is the circulation of pornographic materials or images. This includes both physical and digital photos. And finally, there is displaying explicit content in a place where coworkers can see them.

Types of Sexual Harassment

Harassment can interfere with someone's work and make it difficult for them in their daily tasks. It can be frightening and upsetting. Here's a closer look at two general types of sexual harassment.

Sexual Favors as an Exchange

When an employer asks for sexual favors in return for employment benefits. This can include job offers, promotions, pay raises, or other employment use. This type of harassment is very clear-cut and easy to identify.  It goes by the name of quid pro quo. If you do sexual favors for me, I will treat you favorably at work. If you do not, I will punish you at work.

Hostile Work Environment

A hostile work environment is any sexually-oriented conduct that creates an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.

Signs You Are Being Sexually Harassed

Generally, your instincts will tell you if you are being sexually harassed. The perpetrator will have crossed the line from professional conduct to personal misconduct. Listen to the voice inside your head and if it is telling you that you are experiencing sexual harassment, contact an employment discrimination lawyer immediately.

They ask you out or hit on you even after you've said no

This is a no-brainer. Contact an employment lawyer right away.

Someone is making comments about your body or what you wear

Sexually explicit or sexist comments about your body or appearance are sexual harassment. If someone makes fun of you for the way you dress or your body type, that is also sexual harassment. This type of behavior is degrading and can make you feel unsafe in your workplace.

You are being touched in a way that makes you uncomfortable

If someone is touching you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, speak up. Unwanted physical contact is a form of sexual harassment and should not be tolerated.

It is also important to remember that you are not obligated to touch, hug, or kiss anyone if you don't want to. If someone tries to touch you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, say no. Then report the behavior to your supervisor or human resources department.  Do this in writing so that there is a record of your complaint.

People are sharing sexual jokes or stories around you

Sexually explicit jokes or stories in the workplace are a sign of sexual harassment. This type of behavior can make you feel uncomfortable and unsafe in your environment.

Speak up by telling the person making the jokes that you don't feel comfortable with them. This will let them know that their behavior is inappropriate and needs to stop.

You are receiving unwanted gifts or emails with sexual content

If you're getting unwanted explicit gifts or messages from a coworker, that's harassment. If you receive unwanted sexual gifts or images from a coworker, report them to your HR department.

Don't try to handle the situation on your own. Handling it on your own could make things even more uncomfortable.

You are being stalked or harassed online or through text messages

If you are being stalked or harassed online by someone you know from work that is sexual harassment. This type of behavior can be frightening and make it difficult to go to work.

If sexual harassment happens online, it can be hard to know whether you should report it. How do you know if this behavior crosses the line?

Signs that your coworker might be stalking you online include:

  • Tracking your online activity and commenting a lot
  • Frequent messages, even if you don't reply
  • Hacking attempts on your accounts or devices to get information about you
  • Showing up to places you're at or know about without being invited
  • Posting about you online without your consent
  • Threatening you or making you feel unsafe in any way

Recognize the signs of digital stalking before it gets dangerous. If you feel that your well-being is at risk, take action immediately.  If you think your coworker's behavior is escalating, talk to a supervisor. Or reach out for help from a local organization like the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

People ask for sexual favors in return for job opportunities or promotions

Being asked to perform sexual favors to get a job opportunity is unacceptable. This type of behavior is more than inappropriate. It is illegal. Document any offers or requests for sexual favors and report them to your supervisor.  Then contact an experienced employment lawyer for help.

What Are My Rights?

You have a right to a safe and harassment-free workplace. If you are being sexually harassed at work, Contact an employment attorney for help in handling the situation and collecting any compensation that you are owed.

What to Do if You're Sexually Harassed at Work

Speak up. Report any incidents of sexual harassment to your supervisor or HR department. This will create a record of what happened for future legal purposes. And it will allow your company to take appropriate action against the harasser.

Many employers have policies against sexual harassment and will investigate the allegations.

How to Prove Harassment in the Workplace

The most common way is to show that you endured unwanted sexual advances. You can show this through emails, texts, or testimonies from coworkers—document everything.

If the harasser doesn't stop, keep a diary of what's been happening. Include dates, times, and witnesses. Note who was involved and what happened. Save any emails, text messages, or voicemails related to the harassment.

It's possible to prove sexual harassment through evidence of a hostile work environment. Examples are lewd comments or jokes, pornography displayed at work, or offensive graffiti.

An employer who knows about it but does nothing can be held liable for their employees' actions. If someone is sexually harassing you, make it clear that their advances are unwelcome. You can do this by telling them to stop, saying that you don't like it, or pushing them away.

Whatever you do, don’t go it alone. Contact the Lamberton Law Firm for help.

Free Consultation With a Sexual Harassment Attorney

Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination illegal under federal law. You don't have to put up with sexual harassment in the workplace; we can help you fight back. With our assistance, you can take control of your situation and get the justice you deserve.

We are here to help you understand your rights and guide you through the process of taking legal action. If you are being sexually harassed at work, please do not hesitate to contact us for a free consultation. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain.