Sexual harassment is not something that anybody should have to tolerate, and there is legal recourse that you can take if it happens to you. Here is what you need to know about this type of violation of your rights.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment is considered any sort of conduct in the workplace that is sexual in nature, which includes things that are done verbally, physically, and visually. The unwelcome actions must be pervasive or severe and result in a working environment that is abusive towards you.
What Are Unwelcome Actions?
One of the key elements of any sexual harassment case is that the behavior must be unwelcome. This can create some confusion because a victim does not always make it clear that they are rejecting the behavior. It may be from a boss or co-worker, and they are afraid of some sort of workplace retaliation by being forthright about being sexually harassed.
However, it is important that the behavior is not encouraged either if it is truly unwelcome. For example, if you were receiving inappropriate text messages from a co-worker, but your response was welcoming in nature, it would make it seem as if you are okay with the behavior and encouraging it. This could include laughing at an inappropriate joke or saying that the harasser is funny and encouraging similar behavior.
What Does Severe Or Pervasive Action Mean?
Severe actions are physical acts of sexual harassment, such as being touched inappropriately or an act of sexual assault. It should be quite clear and easy to prove to a jury of your peers that these actions are unwelcomed.
Pervasive action is more about the frequency, where the action happens over and over again. A great example would be if a co-worker was repeatedly asking a person to go out on a date with them, even after repeated rejections and complaints to HR for them to stop.
In either situation, the only way to hold the employer responsible is to let the employer know so that steps can be taken to stop the action from happening again.
What Is Inappropriate Visual Conduct?
While verbal and physical conduct may be quite clear, many people are unsure about what is considered inappropriate visual conduct. This could include things that people have displayed on their desk or their computer or even things that are forwarded in emails. Sometimes it can even include social media posts, even though they are outside of the workplace.
If you have been the victim of sexual harassment, contact a harassment attorney for help.