If you were to ask different people “What is sexual harassment?”, you would get a wide range of responses. This is because sexual harassment in the workplace can fall into a wide range of situations, verbal comments, and even facial expressions. Additionally, the harassment does not have to be sexual in nature, and can include offensive remarks about a person’s sex.

As you can imagine, this can make understanding sexual harassment very confusing for many people. You would be surprised by the number of people who unknowingly experience—or commit—sexual harassment.

male co workers gossiping bout female co worker

Some of the more common forms of sexual harassment in the workplace can include, but may not be limited to:

  • Asking for sex from an employee, manager, co-worker, customer, client, or vendor.
  • Sexually assaulting another.
  • Deliberate and intentional cornering, touching, pinching, kissing, groping, etc.
  • Making gestures at another that sexual in nature.
  • Staring at another in a sexual manner.
  • Emails, text messages, phone calls, or other such communications with another that are sexual in nature.
  • Sexually rubbing or touching yourself in the presence of another.
  • Making facial expressions of a sexual nature, such as licking lips, kissing, or winking.
  • Always steering conversations to topics of a sexual nature.
  • Pressuring another to go out with you.
  • Excessive joking, or making remarks of a sexual nature.
  • Inquiring about another’s sexual preferences, sex life, social life, or sexual fantasies.
  • Stalking another both at work and outside of work.
  • Making up rumors or lies about another that are sexual in nature.
  • Commenting about someone’s looks, anatomy, or clothing in a sexual nature.
  • Making suggestive sexual innuendos or comments.

Key Elements of Sexual Harassment and Other Facts

One of the most important key elements that must be present for sexual harassment to have occurred is unwanted and unwelcome behavior. If the harasser’s actions make you feel intimidated, uncomfortable, or fearful, then it could be sexual harassment.

Most people mistakenly assume a sexual harasser is always a man harassing a woman. Yet, this is not the case. Women have been known to sexually harass men. In addition, the person being harassed can be the same sex as the harasser. 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.

Additionally, sexual harassment can create a hostile work environment even when the behavior is not targeted at any individual employee. If sexually explicit language and pornography are present in the workplace, this may constitute one form of sexual harassment.

If someone is open to and welcomes the sexual actions of another, then it is not considered sexual harassment. For instance, your non-supervisory co-worker asks you to go out with them on a date. You accept without hesitation. After dating them for a few months, they break up with you. Even though you may be hurt and angry, you cannot claim sexual harassment to get back at them. Other forms of sex discrimination can include gender discrimination and sexual orientation discrimination.

What Is Required to Prove Sexual Harassment in the Workplace?

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).

Proving sexual harassment often requires being able to present factual evidence and testimony. Emails, text messages, and other such physical evidence can help support your claim. Even if you do not have concrete evidence, it does not mean there is nothing you can do.

If you are experiencing sexual harassment in the workplace, the best thing you can do is speak to a qualified sexual harassment lawyer like here at Pitre & Associates, LLC. Call us at 202-204-3006 today for a free consultation!

There are several different types of workplace discrimination that can occur in all industries and businesses of various sizes. Defining what is workplace discrimination includes examining the circumstances that have occurred in the workplace and determining if they fit one of the many different types of discrimination.

The process of establishing and proving workplace discrimination can be difficult to do on your own. It is highly recommended to seek help from a qualified workplace discrimination attorney. Your attorney should be familiar with Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the Equal Pay Act, and the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended, or the Rehabilitation Act, as amended They will explain your legal rights, what you can do, and how to ensure enforcement by the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).

Types of Workplace Discrimination

In general, workplace discrimination is discriminating against another based on their age, race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, genetic information, disability, pregnancy status, and national original. Discrimination can also include harassment in the workplace and equal pay/compensation discrimination. 

  • Age discrimination is looking less favorably at someone because of their age. It also involves making derogatory comments or remarks about someone’s age.
  • Race: Race discrimination is treating another less favorably because they are a certain race. This can also include discrimination based on the color of one’s skin. It can even involve discrimination against someone who is involved with or married to someone of a different race and/or color.
  • Religious discrimination is treating another in an unfavorable manner due to their religious beliefs. This can include discriminating against someone who is married to or involved with others of a different religion.
  • Sexual discrimination includes discriminating based on another’s gender, sexual orientation, or transgender status or because someone associates with others of a certain gender, sexual orientation, or transgender status.
  • Genetic Information: It is illegal to discriminate against someone based on their genetic information, including their family medical history when it comes to any aspect of employment.
  • Disability: The ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for employees with disabilities. Failing to do so could be considered disability discrimination. In addition, discrimination against someone who is considered disabled when it comes to any aspect of their employment is against the law.
  • It is against the law to discriminate against an employee who is pregnant or who intends to become pregnant.
  • National Original: It is against the law to discriminate against someone who is from another part of the country, foreign country, or part of the world due to their ethnic background, the assumption they are of a certain ethnic background, or their accent.

group of students abusing pleasant muslim female student

  • Harassment is a type of discrimination that can create a hostile work environment. Harassment also includes sexual harassment, which is harassing another in a sexual manner. Just like discrimination, there can be several types of harassment in the workplace.
  • Equal Pay/Compensation: It is against the law to discriminate against individuals in regards to their pay or compensation when performing similar job duties and functions. Employers are required to give equal pay for the same types of work for all employees. However, there can be discrepancies in pay/compensation based on the number of years of service, which is not considered discrimination.

What Can I Do if I Am Experiencing Workplace Discrimination?

You can file a complaint with your Federal Agency or the EEOC if you are a private sector employee. However, to do so you will need to provide detailed information and provide any supporting evidence. The processes to file your claim can be very complex, so it is best to consult with a workplace discrimination attorney first.

Your attorney not only can assist with filing with the EEOC but also inform you of other legal rights and actions you can take. If you have further questions about workplace discrimination or filing a claim, call Pitre & Associates, LLC at 202-204-3006 now for a free consultation!