It can often be difficult for someone experiencing uncomfortable situations at work to decide if what they are experiencing is sexual harassment. What is considered sexual harassment? How does it differ from other, seemingly similar forms of behavior that are classified as non-sexual harassment?
Sexual harassment on the job is a form of discrimination. It can come in many forms, but some of the most common forms of sexual harassment include uninvited comments, conduct or behavior that references sex, gender or sexual orientation. Employees should be aware of what qualifies as sexual harassment so they can avoid the behavior and report any instances of sexual harassment that occur in the office environment. Sexual harassment is the type of illegal harassment most often reported, but it is not the only form of illegal harassment that occurs in the workplace or during the hiring process. Non-sexual illegal harassment includes harassing comments or behavior that interfere with an employee's success or create a hostile work environment and are related to religion, race, age, gender, national origin, disability, or pregnancy that interfere with an employee's success or create a hostile work environment.
Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace:
- Sharing inappropriate images or videos of a sexual nature.
- Sending suggestive emails, notes or letters.
- Making inappropriate sexual hand gestures.
- Touching another employee inappropriately.
Examples of Non-Sexual Harassment in the Workplace:
- Using slang, phrases or nicknames that are racist in nature.
- Negatively commenting on an employee's religion or religious beliefs.
- Creating or sharing inappropriate images, videos, letters, notes or emails.
- Wearing clothing or posting imagery in a communal workspace that would be offensive to a particular religious or ethnic group.