When comments, behavior, and jokes make you uncomfortable at work, it’s tough to know whether there is anything you can do about it. Are you being too sensitive, or is it really sexually harassment? Here are three signs that you are being sexually harassed at work.
In this blog, I will review the top 3 signs that workplace behavior counts as sexual harassment. I’ll explain how the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) decides whether something counts as sexual discrimination. And I’ll explain what to do if you are being sexually harassed at work.
1. That One Sexual Comment You Tried to Ignore Has Turned into Constant Comments
One off-color comment isn’t necessarily sexual harassment. Just because a coworker asked you for a date doesn’t mean you should file a complaint. But when that one sexual comment turns into a constant stream of unwanted sexual statements, that’s a good sign you are facing sexual harassment.
Federal laws prohibit unwanted sexual behavior that is so frequent or so severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment. So when one comment becomes many over your objection, you may well be facing sexual harassment. The more off-putting the statements, the less often they need to happen before they cross the line into discrimination.
2. You Feel Like Your Job Depends on Saying Yes to Sexual Advances
Anyone asking you to have sex with them can feel uncomfortable. But when the person asking is your boss, it can create added pressure to say yes. If you feel like you could be fired or your job could be affected if you say no to sexual advances, you are likely facing sexual harassment.
Under federal and state laws, requests for sexual favors count as sexual harassment if they result in an adverse employment decision. This can include firing, demotion, negative reviews, or even changes in shift and job assignments. If saying no to a supervisor’s sexual advances leads to negative treatment at work, that treatment will likely count as sexual discrimination.
3. Your Complaints Are Ignored or Mocked
It can be tough to get up the courage to object to sexual jokes or comments. When a boss or co-worker insists on calling one gender names or talking about his or her sex life, it can seem like that’s just part of the job. The key to ending discriminatory treatment is to say something about it. Sexual harassment laws require that the behavior in question be unwanted. Unless you raise an objection to the behavior, it can be hard for an employment discrimination attorney to later prove you weren’t willing to play along.
But complaining doesn’t always end the behavior. Even though your employer has an obligation to correct discriminatory behavior, often an employee’s complaints can go unanswered. Worse, sometimes filing a complaint with your union or your HR department can result in retaliation. You could end up mocked for reporting the very behavior you find offensive. When that happens, not only are you facing sexual harassment, you may also have a claim for retaliation.
What to Do if You See the Signs of Sexual Harassment
If you are facing sexual harassment at work, there are a few things you can do to get results:
- File a formal complaint with your employer or HR department.
- Document every instance of harassment.
- File a complaint with your union representative.
- Request a transfer or reassignment.
- Talk to an employment discrimination attorney.
At Eisenberg & Baum, LLP, we have sexual discrimination attorneys ready to help you fight back against the signs of sexual harassment. We will meet with you and develop a strategy to get you back to a comfortable working environment. Whether your case requires negotiation, an EEOC complaint, or a federal lawsuit, we will be there every step of the way to help you fight back against your harassers. You don’t have to face it alone. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation.