Employees have the right to a workplace that’s free from sexual harassment. It’s up to employers to have clear rules and policies that prohibit sexual harassment in all forms. Many people focus on physical contact as the primary form of sexual harassment, but not all sexual harassment claims stem from this type of situation.
Sexual harassment can occur through comments or even nonverbal incidents that involve no direct interactions between the harasser and the victim. Even an act as simple as looking you up and down in a suggestive manner can constitute sexual harassment if it’s an unwanted sexual activity.
Who can commit sexual harassment?
While sexual harassment may come from “the top down,” and involve managers and supervisors, it’s also possible that a co-worker, customer or vendor could be guilty of sexual harassment. Employers should have policies that address this kind of problem and work to protect their employees from abuse.
One example of sexual harassment that may occur from a co-worker, customer or vendor repeatedly asks you out while you’re working. No matter how many times you decline or ask the co-worker, customer or vendor to stop they continue. Even though the customer never touches you or says anything obscene or overtly sexual, such conduct may still constitute wanted sexual behavior.
What should a person who’s sexually harassed do?
You should document any instances of sexual harassment as they occur. Report the events or conduct to the supervisor on duty or someone else who is responsible to accept these complaints for the company. The claims should then be investigated by the company, and appropriate action should be taken.
If you file a complaint and don’t get any results from your employer, it may be time to talk to someone about your legal rights. No employee should have to deal with unwanted or unwelcome sexual activity at work.