Does sexual harassment require physical contact?

If you go to work and see uncomfortable images, you may feel out of place. For example, if you’re female and go into your manager’s office, you may not be comfortable with seeing a nude poster or calendar.

It’s okay to feel that way, and in some cases, you may actually have a sexual harassment claim if you bring up your problem with this imagery and there’s no proactive response.

Sexual harassment does not have to be physical

Sexual harassment doesn’t have to be physical. Sending emails with sexual or lewd jokes, making obscene comments, making sexual jokes or having sexual imagery in the workplace could be enough to result in a claim.

For example, if you overhear two coworkers making lewd comments about another worker, then you may make a report because of the uncomfortable position you’ve been put into. Sexual posters, pornography, sexual comments, jokes and so many other actions can be considered as sexual harassment, too. 

What should you do if you’re uncomfortable with something in your workplace?

If you come across nude photos or are sent lewd messages that you feel uncomfortable with, the first thing to do is to reach out to the person who committed the act to talk to them. Ask them not to speak with you in that way or to remove sexual content from the office.

Not everyone will feel comfortable doing this, and that’s okay. If you aren’t comfortable, go to your supervisor or human resources representative to talk to them about what is making you uncomfortable, so that they can address it with the appropriate parties.

Give your human resources department time to handle your complaint. If they do nothing about it or your situation at work worsens, then you should start learning about your legal rights and decide if you would like to pursue action to protect yourself and other workers. Sexual harassment is illegal, and you have a right to work in a workplace free of it.



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