We’ve all strolled into work and heard an off-handed comment – maybe one of a sexual nature, or one that made us uncomfortable in another way that could still qualify as some type of harassment – but how can you tell if someone is sexually harassing you if they’re not blatantly obvious about it?
5 Ways You Can Tell if Someone is Sexually Harassing You
As Glendale and Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyers, we answer a lot of questions about what “qualifies” as sexual harassment. Just to set the record straight, any unwelcome sexual behavior, whether it’s physical, verbal or written, can be considered sexual harassment… especially if it makes the victim feel intimidated or humiliated.
This behavior can happen at work, at a work-related event or between colleagues outside of work.
Sometimes sexual harassment is very subtle, though, so here are five ways you can tell if someone is sexually harassing you:
- You observe sexist behavior
- They continually flirt with you
- They bully you using seniority or position
- They behave inappropriately toward you online
- They share personal information you don’t want (or need) to know
1. You observe sexist behavior.
There’s no way to sugar-coat this: Some people are sexist. They don’t believe in equality, and they don’t think that men and women can do the same job because of the differences they perceive between genders.
Maybe you’ve heard jokes about being promoted because of your gender, or perhaps you’ve listened to a rant (or two) about the way your gender isn’t “cut out” for certain jobs. You may even have been passed over for an assignment because of your gender.
Each of these things can be sexual harassment, particularly when it contributes to creating a hostile work environment.
2. Someone continually flirts with you.
Some people consider flirtation harmless, but in many cases, it isn’t. When flirting makes you feel awkward, uncomfortable or offended, it has crossed the line.
Here’s a simple way to look at it: Harmless flirting makes you feel good. Harassment makes you feel bad, angry or unsettled.
3. They bully you using seniority or position.
This type of harassment is known as quid pro quo sexual harassment, and it involves the harasser saying things like, “Are you sure you don’t want to hang out with your boss this Friday night? We’ll have a great time” and “I write your evaluation reports, remember? Maybe you can tell me how to rate you over dinner.”
The idea behind quid pro quo sexual harassment is that the harasser is using his or her position to get you to do something you don’t want to do, including accepting his or her sexual harassment.
4. They behave inappropriately toward you online.
Whether it’s an “accidental” message with an inappropriate photo, non-work-related emails, requests to communicate with you on social media websites, or any other type of communication that falls outside the realm of professional and inside the realm of personal, it could be sexual harassment.
5. They share personal information you don’t want (or need) to know.
When someone shares personal information you’re uncomfortable hearing (or worse, photos you’re uncomfortable seeing), including talking about a recent fight with a spouse, a breakup, or any other domestic-related chatter, it can be a subtle form of sexual harassment.
What to Do if You’re Being Sexually Harassed
In many cases, simply telling the harasser that you’re uncomfortable – or having someone you trust tell the harasser for you – will be enough. Unfortunately, though, that isn’t always how it works out. You may need to escalate the situation and tell a supervisor (or, if it’s your supervisor who’s harassing you, his or her supervisor).
If your employer doesn’t take the steps necessary to stop the harassment, you may need to get in touch with a Glendale sexual harassment attorney.
Call us at 818-617-9706 or toll-free at 800-774-4163 for a free consultation with a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney. Your consultation is confidential, and we can give you case-specific legal advice that helps you move forward in a positive direction.