What is Sexual Harassment?The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature when submission to or rejection of this conduct explicitly or implicitly affects an individual's employment, unreasonably interferes with an individual's work performance or creates an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment" (Facts About Sexual Harassment, U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission).
Sexual Harassment FAQAre you wondering if an interaction you've had with someone at work is sexual harassment? Here are answers to some questions you might have.
- I'm a man and my boss has been coming on to me. Can I file a sexual harassment complaint?
Yes. A man or a woman can be a victim of sexual harassment.
- But my boss is a woman. Can a woman be a harasser?
Certainly. A man or a woman can be accused of sexual harassment.
- Can I accuse my boss, who is the same gender I am, of sexual harassment?
The harasser can be the same gender as the victim.
- What if my co-worker, not my boss, has been making unwanted sexual advances toward me?
The harasser doesn't have to be your boss. He or she can be a co-worker, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another department or someone who doesn't even work for the company.
- My boss asked me out several times, but I've refused him. I still have my job, but I feel like he may treat me unfairly from now on. If I haven't lost my job, can I still claim that I've been a victim of sexual harassment.
One doesn't have to lose his or her job or suffer economic injury to make a sexual harassment claim.
- I have a crush on my boss. He flirts with me relentlessly and I flirt back. Is this sexual harassment?
If your boss's conduct isn't unwelcome, you can't file a sexual harassment claim.
What Should You Do If You've Been a Victim of Sexual Harassment?If you've been a victim of sexual harassment you should, in this order:
- Tell the harasser to stop what he or she is doing.
- File a complaint with your employer through whatever formal mechanism is available, if one is.
- If your other actions have not helped, file a complaint with the EEOC, within 180 days of the alleged incident.
Source: Sexual Harassment. Equal Employment Opportunities Commission.