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Does sexual harassment need to be physical?

Nobody deserves to feel uncomfortable at work. But some employees hold the misconception that inappropriate behaviors should be tolerated if they're not a physical threat.

Sexual harassment in the workplace can exist in multiple ways. It's important to know it when you see it, so we can put a stop to it.

What counts as inappropriate?

Sexual assault includes physical behaviors, such as unwelcome sexual advances and other types of physical conduct of a sexual nature. However, sexual harassment also encompasses inappropriate verbal conduct that could explicitly or implicitly affects an employee's employability, work performance or working environment.

Examples of non-physical sexual harassment may include the following behaviors if they are unwelcomed or negatively impact and employee:

  • Requesting sexual favors
  • Making lewd comments
  • Sharing sexually inappropriate images or videos
  • Making inappropriate sexual gestures
  • Sending suggestive emails or notes
  • Discussing a co-worker's sexuality, promiscuity or sexual history

See it, say it

Sexual harassment can apply to anyone. The victim does not even necessarily need to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the inappropriate conduct.

Sexual harassment in the workplace unreasonably affects an employee's work performance and can create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment. These conditions have led some victims to experience mental and physical consequences, including PTSD, anxiety, muscle aches, high blood pressure and more.

If you or someone you know has experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, a professional can help you learn more about your options to seek justice and feel safe at work again.

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