Is sexual harassment always physical?

On Behalf of | Feb 27, 2020 | Sex Discrimination |

Sexual harassment is illegal in Indiana. Unfortunately, it still happens. In fact, studies show that sexual harassment may be more common than people think. This is because the average worker does not always count non-physical harassment. But is sexual harassment always physical?

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission looks into this question. In short, sexual harassment is not always physical. Many cases of sexual harassment at the workplace do not involve physical contact at all. Examples of non-physical sexual harassment includes:

  • Requesting sexual favors
  • Making unwelcome advances
  • Catcalling or whistling
  • Using offensive or obscene language
  • Spreading sexual rumors
  • Pestering someone for dates

Written communication is also sometimes a tool in sexual harassment. For example, has a worker sent you an email or text containing abusive or suggestive language? Have they propositioned you over letter? Under law, any of these actions is sexual harassment.

Isolated incidents are not prohibited by law. Neither is teasing or offhanded comments. Harassing behavior must be extreme or regular. The behavior must create a hostile work environment. It must also result in an adverse decision toward employees. For example, let us say that someone is the victim of a rumor about sexual misconduct. Because of this rumor, management lets them go from their position. This is an adverse decision that did active harm to an employee. The person spreading these rumors has committed an illegal act of sexual harassment.

Understanding sexual harassment is key in defending yourself from it. Any worker should be aware of what falls under the umbrella of sexual harassment. This allows them to react in a fast, timely manner.


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