Sexual harassment in the workplace might seem like a straightforward subject, but it is actually quite complex. Sexual harassment as defined by agencies such as the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission can occur in a number of situations, but there are also circumstances that might feel like sexual harassment without having the legal foundation for a lawsuit. One of the best ways to understand if you have the basis for a sexual harassment lawsuit is to talk to an experienced employment law professional.
The EEOC says that sexual harassment involves conduct that affects someone’s employment or performance or creates a hostile or intimidating environment. The actions might involve sexual advances, physical or verbal conduct that is related to sex or requests for sex or sexual favors from a coworker or employee.
The EEOC notes that sexual harassment does not always come in the form of a man harassing a woman. The person being harassed can be of either gender, as can the person doing the harassing. The two people involved do not have to be of different genders — there are cases of harassment involving two men or two women. In some cases, there might be more than one person on either side of the harassment.
Traditionally, you might think of sexual harassment as coming from a supervisor or boss, but it can actually come from anyone in the workplace. Injury in the form of economic damages or the loss of job of the victim does not have to occur for sexual harassment to be considered unlawful.
Understanding whether you are facing sexual harassment can be difficult. As a victim, you might feel like you are paranoid or blowing things out of proportion. But you have a right not to be harassed in the workplace, which is why talking to a third party about the issue can often help you understand your options.
Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, “Facts About Sexual Harassment,” accessed May 27, 2016