Most people are aware that sexual harassment is a serious problem for women in the workplace. What many people don’t know is that sexual harassment is not just limited to women. Approximately one in five complaints filed with the EEOC comes from men. That’s a staggering 17 percent, a rate that’s held steady over the past decade.
That statistic maybe even higher if you take into account the men who are too embarrassed or ashamed to report sexual harassment at work. There is no shame in seeking legal action against an employer or coworker for sexual harassment, regardless of your gender. If you’ve been a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers can help.
What Qualifies as Sexual Harassment?
The lines of what is considered sexual harassment can sometimes be blurry. In order for inappropriate behavior to be considered sexual harassment, the perpetrated has to be made aware by the target of the harassment that they find the behavior offensive. This can include sharing nasty jokes, stories, or pictures at work. Sexual harassment doesn’t always involve propositioning someone for sexual favors, nor does it always center on sexual attraction. Sometimes sexual harassment is used as a means of asserting power or dominance over another. Sexual harassment may be used as a means to humiliate an employee or coworker. Many men are harassed in the workplace regarding their gender identity, or for not being overtly “masculine.” For instance, a male worker referring to another male employee as “princess” classifies as sexual harassment.
To break things down in simpler terms, the state of California defines sexual harassment as:
- Unwelcome behavior: The perpetrator needs to be aware that his or her conduct is unwelcome in order for it to be a violation of sexual harassment laws.
- Conduct of a sexual nature: Sexual jokes, comments about someone’s body, unwanted flirting or innuendo, and repeated requests for dates all qualify as sexual harassment. Touching, kissing, hugging, or patting are also a form of sexual harassment. Showing off sexual pictures, drawings, or screensavers are another form of sexual harassment. Just because your work buddy thinks you will find an inappropriate joke funny or want to see a naughty picture, doesn’t give them the right to share any type of sexual content.
- Severe or persistent: In order for the law to recognize a sexual harassment case, the unwanted behavior must either occur for a significant length of time or be severe in nature if it’s a one-time occurrence, such as in the case of rape or attempted sexual assault.
- Affects working conditions or creates a hostile work environment: Inappropriate conduct that has negative repercussions at work is usually considered sexual harassment. If you’re avoiding certain job duties or opt to turn down a promotion because it involves spending more time with someone at work who is harassing you, you most definitely have a case.
Who Commits Sexual Harassment?
Despite popular misconceptions, sexual harassment is not always perpetrated by men. Women can also be aggressors in incidents of workplace sexual harassment. Men often are subjected to sexual harassment by other male coworkers, too. Sexual harassment is a serious matter, one that should be reported right away. No one has the right to make you feel uncomfortable or threatened at your job. If you’ve been subjected to sexual harassment in your workplace, contact our team at Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers right away. Remember, we’re here to help.
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