Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

We have all heard the saying, “don’t mix business with pleasure.”  But what happens when the line gets blurry?  No matter your line of work, sexual harassment while on the job is both inexcusable and unlawful.  You are entitled to work in a safe, healthy, and professional environment.  State and federal law protects both male and female employees from unwanted sexual advances made by either management or a fellow co-worker of the same or opposite sex.  Sexual harassment in the workplace can take a variety of forms, some more obvious than others. Yet, inappropriate conduct does not have to be extreme to rise to the level of sexual harassment.

What are the Most Common Forms of Sexual Harassment?

  • Whistling, cat calls or indecent gestures
  • Deliberate bumping or leaning against another person
  • Comments about your body or bodily movements
  • Demands for dates or sexual acts
  • Inappropriate grabbing or touching of your body or clothing
  • Sexual phone calls, voice messages or e-mail messages
  • Sending or leaving pornographic materials or sexually explicit pictures
  • Repeating dirty jokes or making lewd comments

 Do any of the above examples of inappropriate sexual behavior sound all too familiar?  Sexual harassment is more common than it seems because many cases go unreported.  Unfortunately, it might even get worse as time goes by.  The good news is that sexual harassment in the workplace does not have to be tolerated.  There are several courses of action available to you as an employee who is experiencing sexual harassment at the workplace.  

What Should I Do if I Feel Harassed? 

  • Say “NO” clearly. Make it clear that the harassment is unwelcome.
  • Let the harasser know that the conduct is offensive.
  • Start recording the facts immediately. Include time, dates, situations, comments or gestures and other important details.
  • Always keep your own copy. This documentation is very important and may be used as evidence to support your claim.
    • Keep your documentation in a safe file away from work.
    • If appropriate, discuss the situation with your labor or union representative.
  • Tell your employer about the harassment. File a grievance complaint if it is available to you.
  • Decide whether you want to file a complaint with the appropriate county, state or federal agency and whether you want to speak with an attorney.

 If you or someone you know is a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, the attorneys at Abney & McCarty will advocate for your rights while respecting your privacy and dignity.