If you are like other New York residents, you may have Hollywood’s depiction of sexual harassment in your mind. That image probably involves a male boss making unwanted advances to his female secretary behind the closed door of his office while she attempts to politely decline in order to keep her job.

Sure, that happens, but there is so much more to sexual harassment. The first thing you need to know is that women are not the only victims. Second, outright or veiled requests for sex are not the only ways in which an employee may be sexually harassed.

What sexual harassment really includes

The basic parameters of sexual harassment as outlined by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission include the following:

  • The victim did not invite, want or approve of the harasser’s conduct.
  • The victim and harasser do not have to be of the opposite sex.
  • The victim may be either a man or a woman.
  • The harasser may be either a man or a woman.
  • The harasser’s relationship to the victim may be one of the following:
    • Victim’s supervisor
    • Another supervisor
    • Co-worker
    • An agent of the employer
    • Non-employee
  • The victim does not have to be the target of the harassment, but may merely take offense to it.
  • The victim does not have to suffer economic harm or lose his or her job to file a claim.

Unlawful sexual harassment includes more than just unwanted advancements as well. It may include requests for sexual favors, along with other physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature that creates a hostile, offensive or intimidating work environment. That same conduct may also make it impossible for the victim to work or otherwise interferes with the victim’s employment.

What to do about sexual harassment

Now that you know how the law defines it, you may realize that you became the victim of sexual harassment some time ago. It isn’t necessary for the harasser to threaten your job in some manner for you to file a complaint. You may want to first request that the harasser stop the behavior, but that may not work.

Your next step would then involve utilizing your employer’s policies and procedures against sexual harassment. If doing so does not resolve the issue to your satisfaction or you suffer some sort of retaliation for standing up for yourself or others, then you may want to consult with an attorney with experience in this area of the law to understand your rights and legal options.