Am I Being Sexually Harassed at Work?

June 26, 2022 by Sarah Edwards in Rights  Special Report  
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Sexual Harrassment Laws

There are laws against sexual harassment in the workplace. However, individuals may still engage in sexual harassment, making others in the workplace feel uncomfortable, threatened, or unsafe.

Sometimes, people may not realize they’re being sexually harassed or that there are options to fight back. Knowing what constitutes sexual harassment and what your options are can help you protect yourself.

If your human resources department can’t or won’t put a stop to harassing behavior, the legal team at Esfandi Law Group is ready to protect your rights.

What are some indications that you’re being sexually harassed at work?

1. Unwanted Physical Contact or Attention of a Sexual Nature

If sexual attention or touching makes you uncomfortable, it’s a clear sign of sexual harassment. It can start small, such as the harasser bringing up their sex life or asking questions about yours. Or, it can be more overt, such as unwanted touching on your breasts, bottom, or crotch.

Sexual harassment doesn’t just occur between coworkers; it can happen with clients, vendors, or other workplace visitors.

Someone staring at your body in a way that makes you uncomfortable, such as looking at your breasts instead of your face when talking to you, can be another form of sexual harassment. It can also include coworkers talking about pornographic content or sexually explicit material in shared workspaces like an open office or break room.

Sometimes, it can be hard to differentiate between sexualized and innocent behavior. For example, some people may give side hugs or a pat on the shoulder, not realizing that the recipient doesn’t like to be touched. Some workers may not realize that conversations of a sexual nature are inappropriate in the workplace.
The bottom line? If the behavior makes you uncomfortable, you don’t have to tolerate it.

2. Comments About One’s Gender or Sexuality

Sexual harassment isn’t just directly sexualizing someone. It can also be making jokes or comments about your sexual history or experiences or how you look. This can include making comments about your sexual orientation or making jokes about a particular orientation or gender expression.

These comments don’t necessarily have to be made to your face. They can include any mode of communication, either in the workplace or outside of it. Comments made on social media can fall into this category, in addition to unwanted videos or images sent by a coworker making jokes about your sexuality or gender.

3. Imbalance of Power

The notion of quid pro quo, or sexual favors exchanged for an advantage in the workplace, is one of the more overt forms of sexual harassment. For example, your boss may hint at a promotion in exchange for sexual interaction.
This kind of exchange is typically from a boss to a subordinate and can range from going on a date or after-work drinks to sexual intercourse.

Or, a supervisor may grant a favor to an employee, such as preferred shifts or allowing them to leave work early, then later indicate that the employee should repay the preferential treatment with a sexual favor.
Quid pro quo may also have a threat attached, such as losing the job, being written up, or being moved to a less-desirable department or project. Threats like this can make employees hesitant to speak up.

4. Feeling Pressured to Go Along with the Behavior

Sometimes, sexual harassment isn’t intentional, or your coworkers may not realize that their conversations or comments are considered sexual harassment.

For example, employees having conversations about their sexual experiences may not realize that this could be harassing behavior to others. Other times, someone may believe they’re paying their coworker a compliment by commenting on their body, not recognizing that the other person feels uncomfortable.

However, once you’ve asked someone to stop such behavior and they don’t, they have crossed a line and are acting inappropriately. They may try to brush off your objections or tell you that they were just joking and not to make a big deal out of it.

You have the right to work in an environment where you are not sexually harassed, and if others persist in their behaviors, you have the right to report them to your manager or HR department.

5. Fearing Consequences of Sexual Harassment at Work

If you fear reprisals or negative consequences for speaking up about sexual harassment in your workplace, you’re likely in a toxic workplace and likely being harassed.

You may be made to feel uncomfortable after telling harassing coworkers to stop, or they may take actions that impact your career potential or opportunities to advance in your company.

Dismissing your requests to stop sexual advances, touching, or your objections to sexually explicit conversations, comments, or videos and images is a clear sign that you are in a toxic workplace environment.

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Are You Being Sexually Harassed at Work?

If you’ve tried addressing your concerns with your supervisor or human resources representative and you haven’t gotten resolution, then you may have legal options.

Contact Esfandi Law Group to discuss how you can fight back after being sexually harassed at work.

Need an Attorney? CALL NOW: 310-274-6529

Seppi Esfandi is an Expert Attorney who has over 21 years of practice defending a variety of cases.

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Lara S.
December 3, 2019
Seppi had my case reduced to just an infraction, and thanks to him I was able to keep my job. Jorge was extremely helpful too, the reason I went with this law firm. Overall pleased.

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