While certain forms of physical contact are harassment, it’s also important to know which actions shouldn’t be reported as such.
Sexual harassment can be traumatizing, yet the sad reality is that it still happens in many places. It happens at work, on the street, in bars, etc. What’s worse is that the victims are scared to report the incident, either out of embarrassment or because they think no one will believe them. In fact, an EEOC study from 2016 shows that when it comes to workplace harassment, 75% of people do not report it to a supervisor, union representative, or manager.
However, besides the fact that it’s a terrible thing to do or experience, sexual harassment violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Unfortunately, it’s not taken seriously all of the time. Some laws don’t even classify teasing or comments as sexual harassment. While you should never have to deal with something like this, it’s important to know how to recognize sexual harassment so you can report it accordingly.
What Is Sexual Harassment?
Sexual harassment refers to unwelcome verbal and physical harassment that is sexual in nature, sexual favor requests, and unwelcome sexual advances. It’s a series of actions that affect people of all genders, and it is something that can happen pretty much anywhere, including the workplace.
Sexual harassment in the workplace is prohibited under the Civil Rights Act of 1964, yet it still happens quite often. It can be inflicted upon the victim by a colleague, manager, boss, or anyone else in any position. However, it is very common when the aggressor is in a position of power and the victim is a subordinate.
Sometimes, victims are too scared to report the incident, which is what the aggressors hope. In other instances, the victim is simply not believed, which discourages them from ever reporting such things again.
Types of Behaviors Considered Sexual Harassment
Before you work with specialized law firms like Boucher LLP for your sexual harassment case, you should know how to recognize different forms of harassment. This will help you file a more accurate report and gather proof if necessary.
Here are the kinds of behaviors that are considered sexual harassment:
- Verbal Harassment
Verbal harassment is one of the most common forms of sexual harassment. It happens very often not only because it’s easier to lie about the meaning of the words, but it is also less likely to be taken seriously in some cases. If you’ve ever heard of situations where someone verbally harassed a woman and she reported it, you may have noticed a lot of individuals saying things like “He didn’t touch her” or “It was only verbal, he/she could have ignored it”.
However, verbal harassment is still bad, and it can make the victim feel threatened, objectified, or ridiculed. Some examples of verbal harassment include:
- Sexual innuendos
- Asking or pressuring someone for dates all the time
- Calling an adult person a babe, sugar, stud, boy, girl, or any type of derogatory pet name
- Making sexually oriented jokes all the time
- Constantly commenting on someone’s physique, appearance, hair, or clothes
- Asking about a person’s sexual history, preferences, and fantasies
- Making sexually charged noises like howling, smacking lips, kissing sounds, whistling
- Spreading rumors about someone’s sex preferences or life
- Physical Harassment
As the name suggests, physical harassment involves physical contact with a victim. This type of behavior is very easy to notice – still, many perpetrators have learned ways to remain unnoticed. They try to sneakily do these things or make them appear innocent in some way.
Some of the most common forms of physical sexual harassment include unwelcome:
- Sexual conduct attempts
Some other behaviors that may be seen as sexual harassment include a supervisor who is constantly whispering in your ear, massaging your neck or shoulders, and so on. It all depends on the time, context, person who does it, and other factors.
- Non-Verbal Harassment
Harassment can also include cases where someone isn’t touching you or telling you something. It can include things like:
- Blowing kisses
- Following you around
- Making a suggestive gesture
- Blocking you from moving
- Winking suggestively
- Showing you sexually suggestive visual images
- Looking you up and down
- Staring at you constantly
What Isn’t Sexual Harassment?
While certain forms of physical contact are harassment, it’s also important to know which actions shouldn’t be reported as such. These include:
- Occasionally touching someone on the shoulder or arm very lightly
Also, you should bear in mind that non-verbal forms of harassment may be harder to prove.
It’s important to understand what is considered sexual harassment so you can report it if you ever become a victim. Ensure that you hire a good attorney to help you navigate this difficult time accordingly.