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By John Kristensen of Kristensen Weisberg, LLP posted in Sexual Harassment on Saturday, April 27, 2019.
5 Ways to Identify Workplace Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is a crime. Not only that, but it is a particularly predatory one. More often than not, sexual harassment is created in a dynamic between two (or sometimes more) individuals in which there is a power imbalance being exploited.

 

The workplace is one of the most common situations where this opportunity exists, but there are certainly other environments that can open the door for sexual harassment. In order for sexual harassment to occur, there needs to be a victim and a perpetrator. In a workplace setting, this is commonly a supervisor and their subordinate, but it can certainly be true of many people in many positions and unique situations. Sometimes, it is clear when the line is crossed. However, that is not always the case. If you believe that you may be a victim of sexual harassment, here are five methods to determine if that is the case so you can decide how to take action.

 

Inappropriate comments or remarks that are sexual in nature

This is sexual harassment in and of itself, but it can also be the gateway leading to more egregious offenses – such as unwanted touching, or more. Make no mistakes, it does not need to escalate beyond comments or remarks for it to be sexual harassment, and it should be taken as seriously as any other form of harassment.

 

Inappropriate and unwanted touching

You should never be touched in a way that you don’t want, especially in the workplace, though it is certainly true all the time. If somebody is placing their hands on you, that is already crossing a line. If those touches are suggestive or sexual, it is absolutely sexual harassment.

 

Sharing content that is inappropriate and sexual in nature

Sometimes predators test the water by sharing photos or articles that are suggestive, sexual, and all around not appropriate for the environment. Even if they didn’t say anything specifically to you, or touch you, sharing this variety of content with you, or saying it was ‘just a joke’, is not appropriate and can absolutely be a form of harassment.

 

Making sexual suggestions or requests

When it comes to sexual harassment, it is often an escalation of different forms of harassment. It starts with an inappropriate comment, ‘joke’, photo, or touch, and often leads to making requests for sexual acts or something similarly inappropriate. If anyone propositions you for anything sexual that is not wanted by you, it is absolutely harassment.

 

Feeling uncomfortable

There are only so many ways to try to explain how somebody might harass another person, but nothing is as trustworthy as your gut. If you feel uncomfortable and lines are being crossed, then it is almost assuredly harassment and you deserve to feel safe. If you think there is any chance you, or someone you love, is suffering in a situation where they are a victim of sexual harassment, please reach out to our offices so we can champion your rights to respect and basic human decency.