On behalf of California Employment Counsel, APC on Tuesday, May 7, 2019.

In any workplace in California or elsewhere, you will find a variety of personalities. Some you will look forward to encountering throughout the day, and others you will dread. You may be working with someone who talks too loudly, complains about health issues or has an unpleasant body odor. Others make you uncomfortable in other ways.

Your co-workers may make excuses or brush off a colleague’s behavior as just being overly friendly. Maybe some explain the behavior as part of the difference between cultures or generations. It may be something that disturbs and confuses you because to you, the actions are simply offensive.

How do you know if it is sexual harassment?

Sometimes is it obvious when someone is sexually harassing you at work. If a co-worker makes unwanted advances after you have clearly and repeatedly rejected him or her, you may consider this harassment. The situation can often be much more subtle, however, and this may leave you confused. This off-balance feeling may be part of the control your harasser is trying to obtain over you. You may suspect you are the victim of harassment under these and other circumstances:

It begins with unwanted comments, offers, offensive conversation topics or touches that are too familiar.
Because of the role or status of the harasser in your workplace, you do not feel you have the power to control the situation.
You are nervous, embarrassed or uncertain about making your complaint known to those who should take action, such as human resources or your supervisor.
You are afraid that speaking up about sexual harassment may make you the victim of retaliation, such as mistreatment by your co-workers or even termination.
It is also important to understand that sexual harassment may not actually be of a sexual nature but can include comments or actions directed at your gender. For example, if a supervisor places all the men on a different shift or directs more challenging or lucrative assignments away from the female employees, these are forms of sexual harassment.

Any behavior that a reasonable person would find offensive or unwelcome may be sexual harassment. You have the right to work in an environment that is free from this kind of hostility. If you are the victim of harassment that your employer will not acknowledge or address, you may need to seek advice from a sexual harassment attorney.