Sexual harassment is a complicated concept to unpack because it is dealing with an interaction that society still finds taboo ? sex. Sex is a complex social interaction that does not enjoy clear-cut or hard-and-fast rules. As such, it is tough to discern when harmless flirting transcends into sexual harassment. Some companies try to control it by preventing all workplace romance, but that is like trying to push a boulder up a mountain. To help you identify sexual harassment incidents here is some information to guide you.
First, sexual harassment can happen without economic injury or employment termination. Many people think that the only way you can be a victim is if you suffer a consequence at work. That isn't true; sexual harassment can harm people by undermining them, making them feel uncomfortable, and other collateral emotional and verbal actions that make people feel unsafe at work.
Second, harassers can be anyone at work, from supervisors to non-employees. Most people tend to think that sexual harassment is a top-down relationship (supervisor-employee) but that isn't true. Anyone can harass somebody else.
Third, anyone can harass anybody else. There are sexual harassment incidents involving the same and opposite sex, and that involve men and women.
Fourth, the victim isn't limited to just the person who is the object of the harassment. Anyone can be a victim, so long as the harassment affects and harms them. A typical example is someone who is a survivor of sexual assault.
Fifth, sexual harassment, by its definition, must be unwelcome. The government is not interested in prohibiting workplace romances; it is only interested in preventing harassment.
If you believe you or a co-worker were the victims of harassment, you should contact an employment attorney. You are entitled to work in a safe environment. A lawyer can walk you through the various legal processes that are available to you to enforce your rights. You can pursue action through the company, through the Equal Opportunity Commission, and by filing a lawsuit. A lawyer can guide you through each method and advise you of the pros and cons.