When the MeToo Movement swept the United States in 2017, many were surprised to find out how rampant sexual harassment is in the workplace. Others realized that they had been victims of sexual harassment at one time or worked in a hostile workplace, where subtle forms of sexual harassment were common.
But how could you be a victim of sexual harassment and not realize it? That’s because sexual harassment occurs in many forms.
Understanding subtle sexual harassment
Sexual harassment isn’t just a situation where a boss demands sexual favors from an employee so the employee can advance. It also includes any type of sexual harassment that impacts an employee’s ability to succeed or makes them uncomfortable at work. You don’t have to be the target of harassment to be a victim of sexual harassment or a hostile work environment. You can just witness it.
Here are some signs you are facing sexual harassment at work or have a hostile work environment:
- Someone shares inappropriate sexual images or videos or inappropriate gifts with co-workers.
- Someone sends suggestive emails, letters or notes.
- Someone displays inappropriate sexual images or posters in the workplace.
- Someone makes lewd jokes or share sexual anecdotes at work.
- Someone makes sexual comments about someone’s body or body parts.
- Someone asks about another employee’s sexual history or sexual orientation.
- Someone inappropriately touches, pats, rubs or pinches someone in a sexual manner.
- Someone makes offensive comments about someone’s sexual orientation.
The person who is the harasser doesn’t need to be your boss or someone you work with directly. It even can be a customer or client.
What to do about sexual harassment
Sexual harassment violates the Civil Rights Law of 1964. If you feel you are the victim of sexual harassment or you work in a hostile environment, you have the right to file a sexual harassment claim and ensure the harassment ends.