Does sexual harassment have to be physical?

Massachusetts employees like you should feel safe and secure when you go to work. Unfortunately, some people make workplace environments feel dangerous and unsafe. Sexual harassment can be one form that these troubling actions and behaviors take. But just what is sexual harassment?

Unfortunately, there is a misconception that sexual harassment must be physical in order to be legally fought against. While there are certainly many instances of physical sexual harassment, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sets the record straight, stating that sexual harassment can be non-physical as well.

Some examples of non-physical sexual harassment can include requests for sexual favors, sexual advances that are not welcomed, lewd remarks either to you directly or behind your back to fellow workers, or the spreading of slanderous rumors related to your sex or sexuality.

It should also be known that sexual harassment does not necessarily have to be sexual in nature. For example, if a coworker makes an offensive remark about your sex, that could count. Rude, generalizing remarks that target the entire female sex are considered discriminatory. Examples can include someone telling a female employee to “get back into the kitchen”, or implying through other means or statements that they do not belong in the workplace because they are a woman.

Handling these situations can be difficult. If you believe you have been the target of sexual harassment, consider contacting an attorney to learn more about how you can fight against your harassers and seek compensation for your emotional or physical distress.


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