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What does workplace sexual harassment look like?

On Behalf of | Oct 11, 2023 | Sexual Harassment |

Many people mistakenly think there needs to be some kind of physical touching for something to count as sexual harassment. There doesn’t. Further, cases where there is physical contact are often better dealt with as sexual assault in the criminal courts.

Understanding what qualifies as sexual harassment can help people call it out and, if necessary, report it. Here are some examples.

Gender-based jokes

Some groups of men love to make wife jokes or jokes about women in general. They are no more appropriate in the workplace than they would be in their homes.

Comments about how someone looks or dresses

Telling someone they look nice is not harassment by itself. In many cases, it is just a compliment. Saying it in a sleazy way, accompanying it with certain gestures or going into too much detail, could, however, turn it into harassment. This applies whether the comments are made directly to the person or behind their back.

Inappropriate “decoration”

Once upon a time, some auto repair businesses and other workplaces adorned their walls with calendars of scantily clad women given to them by suppliers. Any female employees were expected to put up with it. That is no longer the case, and a court may interpret it as harassment because it can make female staff and visitors uncomfortable.

While some one-off incidents can be severe enough to warrant a sexual harassment claim (or even a sexual assault claim), most sexual harassment claims come down to cumulative smaller actions. If you can show that those actions left you feeling like your workplace was hostile, you may have legal options.

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