Sexual harassment is one of the most serious concerns in workplace culture. Unfortunately, despite the widespread education about prevention, it is still more widespread than you would expect. One of the biggest challenges for those dealing with sexual harassment at work is the lingering question of whether or not it's actually happening. Sometimes, harassment can be subtle enough that you may not be sure. Here are some common signs to watch for.
Invading Personal Space
If a co-worker, manager, or another individual at your workplace has started standing far too close to you and invading your personal space, that can be construed as sexual harassment if it's paired with any other type of indication, including unwanted physical contact of any kind. This is especially true if you have asked them to stop doing it and the problem persists. Express your discomfort openly and clearly, then consider taking action with management or an attorney if it continues.
Making Sexual References Or Jokes
The workplace is the wrong environment for sexual references, comments, and gestures. Innuendo and similar inferences should be reported right away. If these things persist, that can be considered a hostile work environment caused by sexual harassment. This can also apply to general sexual topics of conversation, including discussions of encounters and sex life between coworkers.
Requests for a date or romantic attention coming from someone in the workplace can often be considered sexual harassment. This is particularly true if the individual in question is a superior or otherwise in a position of authority. If you don't feel as though you can say no to advances because of the position that the other individual holds at the company, that is certainly considered sexual harassment.
One of the more subtle indications of sexual harassment lies in the differing treatment of those individuals who rebuff advances or employees who are transgender, have a different sexual orientation, or are otherwise not considered "attractive" by the responsible individual. Preferential treatment of those deemed attractive or those who respond to advances is sexual harassment, even if that preferential treatment is subtle and difficult to prove.
These are some of the most important things to watch for when it comes to signs of sexual harassment. Talk with your local attorney for more guidance about workplace sexual harassment law and how you should handle the situation if you have been harassed by someone in your workplace.
I'll be up front: I have a criminal record. As someone who's spent lots--and lots--of time looking for a job in my life, I've gotten used to being up front with this fact. It's difficult to get hired with this on my record, and frankly, it never gets less scary to have to tell an interviewer about it. But that doesn't mean I'm unemployable. I'm a hard worker who can bring a lot to any company. And I also know what an employer needs to do for me. I know my rights. There's no federal law protecting me from discrimination due to my record, but there are plenty of state laws that make it a little easier for me. If you're looking for a job and you have a criminal record, read through this information. Protect yourself during a job search. Know your rights.