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Lesser-known facts about sexual harassment

When thinking of sexual harassment, most people think of a male boss persuading a female to do sexual things she does not want to do to protect her job. While this does happen in the workplace, it is also not the only way that sexual harassment occurs. Many victims of sexual harassment never report their concerns or the violations made by another because they are not sure that it qualifies as sexual harassment, or they do not want to deal with the repercussions. To make the workplace safer for everyone, sexual harassment should always be addressed and dealt with.

The gender of the harasser and victim is interchangeable

Sexual harassment is not always a man harassing a woman. Women do their fair share of harassment in the workplace, and both genders should feel comfortable reporting an incident that made them uncomfortable. Sexual advances or threats made from either gender are considered sexual harassment.

The harasser can be anyone in the office

The harasser does not have to be a supervisor or even someone in a position of power in the workplace. Anyone who engages in activities or conversations that make someone feel uncomfortable may be guilty of harassment. In addition to being a boss or supervisor, a harasser can be a co-worker, an employee from another department, an agent who works with the employer or even a non-employee who spends time in the office.

Harassment is more than unwanted sexual advances

The harasser does not actually have to pressure the victim for sexual favors for the behavior to be considered harassment. Even pressure for dates, inappropriate invitations or leering may be considered sexual harassment. As sexual harassment is considered a type of discrimination, anything that creates a hostile sexual environment for the victim falls under this behavior.

Welcome conduct is not sexual harassment

If you are constantly flirting with or engaged in sexual activity with a co-worker that you enjoy and invite, the behavior is not considered harassment. Others may see the interaction and be concerned, but if the individual welcomes the conduct, there is no basis for a harassment claim.

That being said, if another individual feels harassed or threatened, even by welcome behavior of two others in the office, then he or she may be considered a victim of harassment. If another person is being harassed and it makes another employee uncomfortable, the uncomfortable employee may have grounds for a harassment claim.

Sexual harassment has no place in the workplace

Regardless of the situation, if you feel threatened at your job or are tired of fielding inappropriate jokes, advances or threatening situations , consult an attorney immediately.

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