≈ Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”1

Sexual harassment happens to both men and women, by both genders. It is not defined by where it occurs such as in the office or at school. Sexual harassment can occur wherever there is more than one person present, and ranges from a comment about one’s appearance to rape.

The law defines sexual harassment for legal purposes, but individuals also decide when they believe they are being sexually harassed. Commenting about a woman’s dress could be considered sexual harassment as well as threatening job security over sexual favors. Some people may use a hug that looks innocent to grope other people. As with any situation that involves physical contact between people, consent should be obtained.

Companies and individuals are also wrangling with other issues such as office dating and dirty jokes, and when a line has been crossed both morally and legally.

The sourced articles below should provide you more information on sexual harassment mainly in an office or work situation.

  1. Amid #MeToo, New York Employers Face Strict New Sexual Harassment Laws

    “The resulting #MeToo movement helped transform workplace culture and spurred both the state of New York and New York City to pass the country’s most stringent workplace sexual harassment laws, the bulk of which take effect Tuesday. The city and state regulations are similar, requiring employers to conduct annual training aimed at preventing sexual harassment. They must also post their policies in highly visible places.”

    Yuki Noguchi And Shane Mckeon, npr.org, 10/9/2018

  2. Sexual Harassment

    The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) definition: “It is unlawful to harass a person (an applicant or employee) because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include ‘sexual harassment’ or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Harassment does not have to be of a sexual nature, however, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex. For example, it is illegal to harass a woman by making offensive comments about women in general. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim’s supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.”

    U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), eeoc.gov, accessed on 10/5/2018

  3. Sexual Assault And Harassment Linked To Long-Term Health Problems For Women, Study Says

    “Women who reported workplace sexual harassment had higher blood pressure than women who did not, at levels significant enough to put them at risk for stroke, aneurysms, kidney disease, heart attacks and other forms of heart disease. Sexual harassment was also linked to higher levels of triglycerides, Thurston said, a key risk factor for heart disease, which is the leading killer of women in the United States.”

    Sandee LaMotte, cnn.com, 10/3/2018

  4. Getting Tough On Sexual Harassment

    “One complication is that dating at work is an extremely common practice. A Harris survey conducted for CareerBuilder last year found that about a third of respondents had dated someone at work, and one third of those individuals reported that it led to marriage. While it sounds simple to just prohibit sexually oriented behavior at work, that would also mean stamping out dating. The second concern is that beliefs about what constitutes sexual harassment vary and are typically quite different from the definition in the law. According to the Wall Street Journal, an EEOC study concluded that about a quarter of women reported experiencing sexual harassment when they were given a standard definition of it, while about half said they experienced it when they were allowed to define it themselves.”

    Peter Cappelli and Dan O’Meara, hrexecutive.com, 4/9/2018

  5. Sexual Harassment In The Workplace: How To File A Complaint And Prepare For The Emotional Fallout

    “Document and Gather Evidence of Your Harassment:
    If you believe you’re being sexually harassed, write down what is happening, and save any evidence you have of your harassment. If you feel safe doing it, you do have the option of telling your harasser to stop …
    [1.] Tell your harasser to stop. …
    [2.] Gather evidence. …
    [3.] Don’t quit your job — yet. …”

    Jeanie Lerche Davis, Medically Reviewed by Kacy Church, MD, everydayhealth.com, 2/14/2018

  6. How Google, Facebook And Amazon Handle Office Romances — And How You Should Too

    “Facebook has internal ‘Managing A Respectful Workplace’ training sessions in which the nuances of employee interactions and what is considered to be appropriate behavior are examined. For example, Swartz says they make sure to discuss examples such as ‘Someone telling a coworker: ‘nice dress.’ The group discusses the different ways this comment can be perceived based on tone of voice, and frequency of use.'”

    Nina Zipkin, entrepreneur.com, 2/14/2018

  7. What’s The Difference Between Sexual Abuse, Sexual Assault, Sexual Harassment And Rape?

    “Sexual harassment is a much broader term than sexual assault, encompassing three categories of impermissible behavior. … Unwanted sexual attention can include sexual assault and even rape. If an employer were to forcibly kiss and grope a receptionist without her consent, this would be an example of both unwanted sexual attention and sexual assault — both a civil offense and a crime.”

    Sarah Cook, Lilia Cortina, and Mary Koss, pri.org, 2/7/2018

  8. Is ‘That’ Sexual Harassment? How To Tell, Using ‘Cooper’s 6 Levels.’

    “This tool clearly outlines the spectrum of sexual harassment and what falls into it, allowing everyone involved to pinpoint exactly what happened in a given incident and understand its severity. Importantly, every level here constitutes harassment. …
    [1.] ‘Aesthetic appreciation’ encompasses so-called innocent behavior in the form of a seemingly non-aggressive compliment about a woman’s (or man’s) physical or sexual features. …
    [2.] ‘Mental Groping’ is where the visual and verbal behavior gets more invasive. It’s undressing someone with your eyes. …
    [3.] ‘Social Touching’ is physical contact that carefully stays within the bounds of acceptable behavior. …
    [4.] ‘Foreplay harassment’ is where the touching starts to push the boundaries. The offender escalates the touching into more sensitive areas. …
    [5.] ‘Sexual abuse’ constitutes clear sexual harassment. It’s touching of a sexual nature, such as pinching, grabbing or brushing up against sexual areas of the body. It’s outright sexual propositions and threats — classic quid pro quo harassment that demands, “Comply, or else.” …
    [6.] ‘Ultimate Threat’ means outright sexual assault that causes physical harm, or the threat of assault unless there is compliance. …”

    Ken Cooper, entrepreneur.com, 1/10/2018

  9. Poll: Views On Sexual Harassment At Work Divide Women By Age

    “Overall, 62 percent of men and 71 percent of women believe sexual harassment happens at almost all or most workplaces, a difference of 9 percentage points. Add age into the mix, however, and the numbers look different among both men and women. Among women 18 to 49 years old, 78 percent say ‘sexual harassment happens in almost all or most workplaces.’ But among women 50 or older, the number falls 14 points to 64 percent, which is below the national average.”

    Dante Chinni, nbcnews.com, 12/3/2017

  10. Workplace Touching: When It’s OK, And When It’s Harassment

    “A good rule of thumb, from lawyers and etiquette experts alike: if you’re considering anything beyond a handshake, proceed with caution. … In terms of legal action, Armstrong says a pattern of touching in the workplace can be described as sexual harassment when it’s defined as ‘severe and pervasive.'”

    Julia Carpenter, money.cnn.com, 11/9/2017



1. eeoc.gov, accessed on 10/5/2018