Is there a difference between sexual and general harassment?

When you think about harassment in the workplace, does your mind immediately jump to sexual harassment? For many people, that is the reality, because sexual harassment is such a serious problem.

Sexual and nonsexual harassment, or general harassment, are different. They are both just as serious, though, since both create a negative work atmosphere and may cause stress, anxiety or distress among the victims.

Sexual harassment must involve sexual issues

Perhaps the most obvious difference between general harassment and sexual harassment is that sexual harassment requires a sexual element to the case. Sexual harassment might include actions such as:

  • Making comments about someone’s body in a sexual manner
  • Sending out sexual jokes by email
  • Hanging up a sexy poster at work
  • Touching another person when they are uncomfortable with it
  • Repetitively asking someone on a date when they’ve already asked the asker to stop

All of these issues, as well as many others, could constitute sexual harassment.

General harassment includes any other type of harassment

General harassment claims are nonsexual. They might include complaints about someone making a derogatory comment about your race or age. These make the workplace feel unwelcome or threatening, which creates an atmosphere filled with tension and distrust.

Whether you face sexual or general harassment in the workplace, you deserve the opportunity to seek a resolution to that problem. If your employer is not willing to step in and correct the issue, then you may want to consider your legal options for handling the situation.

What do you need to do if you suspect harassment on the job?

If you are dealing with harassment, it is helpful to start collecting evidence. Keep copies of emails or messages sent to you that are harassing in nature. You should save those in printed form or off the network, so you can still access them if you leave the company or are terminated from your role.

Additionally, it may be a good idea to speak with others in the workplace to find out if they’re dealing with the same issues or have seen what you’ve been going through. Witness testimonies may help your case.



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