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Don't let sexual harassment get in the way of your work day

Anyone who goes to work knows that there is a potential that sexual harassment could happen in the workplace. Sexual harassment is a type of sexual discrimination. As a result of that categorization, Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects men and women against sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment can include many different kinds of acts such as:

  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature when it affects a person's employment or work
  • Sexual conduct that intimidates or creates a hostile, offensive work environment

Who can become a victim of sexual harassment?

Anyone can become a victim of a sexual harasser. Men and women alike have been faced with difficult situations involving harassment in the past. Sexual harassment isn't legal, but the chances are that most people will see it happen in their workplaces at one time or another.

Did you know that a harasser doesn't have to be an employee?

The person who is sexually harassing others doesn't have to be an employee. In fact, it might be someone who is a client or third-party contractor. While supervisors, agents of the employer and coworkers certainly can cause issues with sexual harassment, they aren't the only people who can harass others in a workplace.

What do you do if someone is being harassed but they seem to welcome it?

It is not sexual harassment if the alleged harasser's conduct is welcomed. For example, if an attractive client comments on an employee's figure, they may actually like that attention. Harassment only occurs when they feel uncomfortable or when the comments made them uncomfortable. On the other hand, if you are uncomfortable about what you're seeing, you may be able to seek support. You have a right to work in an environment you're comfortable in, and that includes telling others if their conduct makes you uncomfortable.

If you speak up against harassment in the workplace, you should never fear retaliation. Retaliation is also against the law, so your employer, coworkers and others should not lash out in response to your concerns. If you feel that you have been retaliated against, that's something that you will want to talk to your attorney about, since retaliation is not legal and can lead to penalties for those involved.

Every workplace is different, but if you see harassment taking place or are a victim yourself, you have a right to speak out.

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