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Recognizing Sexual Harassment in the Workplace


Sexual harassment is an uncomfortable topic, but every employer and employee should be well-versed in spotting and preventing inappropriate conduct. All people should feel safe and comfortable at their workplace, but harassment can take many forms and disrupt a peaceful workplace. Learn how to spot the signs of sexual harassment in the workplace, and help protect yourself and your coworkers.

What is Sexual Harassment?

Harassment is continued and unwanted behavior that targets an individual or group. It can include a number of harmful behaviors, from suggestive comments to inappropriate touching. It also can include retaliatory actions taken against an employee that reports sexual harassment.

Examples of sexual harassment include:

  • Remarks or comments of a sexual nature, especially if they refer to a person’s appearance or genitalia.
  • Inappropriately touching another person.
  • Making requests for sexual activity or going on a date with another employee.
  • Forwarding or spreading images that are sexually explicit or provocative.
  • Disseminating literature that is sexually explicit or provocative, including personal stories, jokes, and other material.

It is also important to consider other factors that may affect the action that can be taken for a sexual harassment complaint. Typically, a victim of sexual harassment would file a complaint with their employer. They also may be able to file a claim for against the harasser for assault or battery. The employer may also be held liable if the company or supervisors took retaliatory action against the person who reported the harassment, such as denying them a promotion they had earned or firing them.

What to Do About Sexual Harassment

It’s important to be able to recognize sexual harassment, but it also is necessary to know what you can do after an incident.

  • Review the employee handbook or policy manual for sexual harassment policies.
  • Learn who is supposed to handle your report and make one, in writing if possible. This will typically be to your company’s human resources department.
  • If there isn’t a policy in place, make your report to a supervisor. Your company needs to be made aware of inappropriate behavior.

Things to Remember About Sexual Harassment

  • The victim or harasser can be a man or a woman. The victim may be the same sex as the harasser.
  • The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, but they may also be an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or even a non-employee.
  • The victim does not have to be the subject of the harassment, just someone who as affected by the offensive conduct.
  • Sexual harassment can occur without harming the victim’s income or employment.
  • The harasser’s conduct must be unwelcome.
  • Sexual harassment can include many actions, such as any sexual conduct or speech that interferes with an individual’s employment or work performance, or creates a hostile, intimidating, or offensive work environment.

If you are facing sexual harassment at work, you deserve to be protected. At Donati Law, PLLC, we are committed to protecting the rights of workers, including the right to a safe and comfortable workplace. Our Memphis employment lawyers can help you file a sexual harassment claim or can help you fight back if you have been discriminated against for filing a complaint.

Contact our firm for a consultation. Call (901) 209-5500 today.

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