“Sexual harassment” is a term that our readers probably see quite a bit in the news, with reports of this conduct occurring in workplaces throughout the country – despite the well-intended, best efforts of those who would try to put an end to this type of behavior.
For those who may have been involved in an uncomfortable or seemingly inappropriate situation in the workplace, they may be wondering if they were the victim of sexual harassment.
What type of conduct, exactly, would actually meet the definition of sexual harassment?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is a useful source when attempting to determine what, in fact, constitutes sexual harassment. According to the EEOC website, the conduct in question usually must go beyond one-off comments or incidents, or even teasing. That’s where the “harassment” part of the term comes into play. The conduct typically must be severe or frequent to be considered sexual harassment. Obviously, “severe” and “frequent” are, themselves, subjective terms.
Then, of course, the conduct must be sexual in nature, which can include anything from requests for sexual interactions or favors to physical touching or verbal, sexual statements. It can also include unwanted sexual advances, among other conduct. The gender of the victim and harasser doesn’t matter – men and women equally could be subjected to sexual harassment in the workplace.
Investigating your claim
If you believe you have been subjected to sexual harassment, be sure to have the facts of your situation examined carefully. Proving these types of claims can be difficult, especially if there are no supporting witnesses. But, if you have a potential claim, having it evaluated can put you one step closer to ensuring a return to a safe workplace.