Anyone who has ever been the victim of sexual harassment knows that the act can strip away your dignity. The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled that sexual harassment is a form of job discrimination and should not be tolerated in the workplace.
Since sexual harassment is often not too obvious, here are some answers to some commonly asked questions.
A co-worker asked me out on a date. Is that harassment?
There is nothing explicitly illegal about a co-worker asking another out on a date. There are several factors that must be considered in determining whether the act constitutes harassment, such as:
- Your employment relationship, e.g., company CEO asking a junior employee on a date.
- Company policy regarding interpersonal communication of that nature
- Unwanted persistent contact with you prior to asking, or after asking
- The co-workers’ reaction to your response
- How your work environment may have been affected
Is it sexual harassment if I hear jokes about being pregnant or going out on family leave again?
Yes, it is likely sexual harassment and it shouldn’t be allowed by your employer. However, this doesn’t necessarily rise to the level of taking legal action. You should take notes and report the inappropriate jokes and comments to your human resources department. If your employer fails to act on your concerns or retaliates against you for reporting, you have a possible sexual harassment case.
Is it harassment if my boss refers to me as honey, sweetheart and darling?
Standing alone, this might not be enough. However, you should ask them to stop and report it to your human resources department. If your boss retaliates, you possibly have a sexual harassment claim for damages.