What Is Workplace Harassment?

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There are a few types of harassment. One of the most well-known types is sexual harassment. But it can manifest in many ways, which may or may not be sexual. Sometimes perpetrators, upon getting nervous that they might be caught, will switch up their strategy and play nice for a while, giving you a false sense of security before they do something offensive or lewd again. Sometimes it takes a lawsuit, or the fear of one, to make a person stop, and for a company to take responsibility for what happened. To do that, you will need an experienced and successful employment attorney.  

Verbal Harassment

There are numerous examples of workplace sexual harassment. You’ve been harassed if you’ve experienced:

 

  • Unwelcome and repeated flirting or complimenting that is excessive or sexual in nature
  • Unwelcome and repeated requests to provide any sexual favors
  • Unwelcome touching, whether it happens once or multiple times
  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Offensive sexual or sexist jokes

 

You will need to consult your employee handbook and look up the policy regarding reporting sexual harassment. Depending on what was said, one egregious comment can be sufficient enough to file a report. However, in other cases, it is the documented pattern of flirtations and unwanted attention that will lead someone to file. 

 

Nonverbal Sexual Harassment

Nonverbal harassment may be subtle, while at other times it is very obvious. This type of harassment includes winking, making sexual gestures, staring or leering.  

Physical Harassment

This is usually very obvious. This is when an employee’s personal space was violated and they were touched anywhere on their body. Of course, if the touch was sexual in nature, then that escalates the severity of the incident.

Visual Harassment

This type of harassment includes any images or graphics that are sexual and offensive in nature that is either distributed to one or more people in a company. The means through distribution are varied but include:

 

  • Nude calendars
  • Email attachments
  • Photographs
  • Screensavers and desktop wallpaper on computers, laptops, and company phones

When Is An Employer Liable For Harassment?

An employer is automatically liable for any harassment by any managers or supervisors that leads to an employee’s termination, denial of promotion, or lost wages. The employer is also liable for harassment committed by non-supervisors or freelancers/independent contractors if your employer knew about or should have been aware that the harassment was going on, and didn’t follow the proper procedure to rectify the situation. 

Why You Need An Employment Attorney

Harassment, sexual or not, can be degrading, humiliating, and even dangerous. If you are afraid to go into work because you feel coerced to give in to your boss’ sexual advances or risk losing your job, then you need an employment attorney. If you have been sent suggestive messages, then you definitely want to speak to your lawyer. But you also should speak to your Human Resources department, the legal team or even the owner of your company about what is going on. You will need to provide these reports to your attorney. If no corrective measures have been taken, then you will want to document evidence, such as dates, times, and the people involved in the subsequent incidents. 

 

If your employer’s correctives have not adequately resolved the issue, or if you’ve faced retaliation since filing your report, then an employment attorney can help you. You are legally protected from having to work under such conditions. You will want to speak to a lawyer right away about your case.