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Sexual advances in the workplace

Workers in California who experience sexual advances in the workplace need to understand their rights. Considered to be under the general term of sexual harassment, unwelcome advances are prohibited when it unreasonably interferes with work performance or creates an offensive or intimidating work environment.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual advances are not limited to one gender or situation. The victim can be female or male, and the harasser does not have to be of the opposite sex. The harasser does not need to be a superior and, in fact, it does not have to be an employee. The conduct of the one doing the harassing must be unwelcome, but the offended victim does not have to be the one directly harassed.

According to the American Association of University Women, sexual advances in the workplace can show up in two different forms. One is in a way that results in a hostile or uncomfortable work environment. Factors that come into play when determining a hostile environment include:

  • The frequency of occurrence
  • Whether the advances were physical, oral or both
  • Who the accused harasser is in relation to the victim
  • Whether the advances were considered to be offensive or hostile
  • If more than one individual was affected
  • If others were involved in the unwanted advances

The other form of sexual advances shows up in regard to employment status. If choosing to submit to, or reject, the unwanted advances affects an assigned project, a promotion or even the job itself, it is considered sexual harassment.

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