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How to recognize sexual harassment in the workplace

On Behalf of | Sep 16, 2022 | Employment Law, Sexual Harassment

California employees have the right to a workplace that is free of harassment. However, while all types, including sexual harassment, are illegal, they can still happen. This is how to recognize this unwanted behavior in the workplace.

Understanding sexual harassment

Sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law applies to all employers with 15 or more workers. Sexual harassment cannot be perpetrated to make for a hostile working environment. Managers, supervisors and bosses are also prohibited from requesting sexual favors from employees for some type of consequence. For example, a supervisor cannot order an employee to have sex with them in exchange for a raise. California law prohibits it as well.

Types of inappropriate conduct considered sexual harassment

Although some types of conduct in the workplace are obviously sexual harassment, others may be subtle, leaving a person wondering. Overt forms include unwanted touching of another employee, making sexually explicit comments, catcalls or cornering someone and invading their personal space.

Other examples can be things people ordinarily might not think of as sexual harassment. For example, repeatedly complimenting an employee’s appearance might seem like a nice gesture, but if it makes the person uncomfortable, it’s considered harassment.

If someone repeatedly makes jokes of a sexual nature in the workplace, it could make others uncomfortable and interfere with work performance. This is sexual harassment. Even making comments about a coworker’s personal life to someone else and not directly to them constitutes sexual harassment.

Sometimes, sexual harassment may not be done in an obvious manner right in the open in the workplace. One of the most common ways this can occur is when a person sends a coworker texts, emails or messages on another platform that are sexually suggestive. Starting sexual rumors about a coworker also constitutes sexual harassment.

Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment. It should be reported and immediately stopped.