The Me Too movement has brought sexual harassment in the workplace into public focus. While increased awareness is valuable, sexual harassment remains a major problem at job sites in Texas and around the country. In fact, according to a recent survey, more than 80% of women report having experienced sexual harassment at work.
Sexual harassment can be physical or verbal. While it often includes making sexually suggestive comments or propositions, any disparate treatment because of a person’s sex may qualify as sexual harassment. Often, sexual harassment at work starts subtly.
Inadvertent bodily contact
Your managers or coworkers may not be bold enough to touch you inappropriately at first. Instead, they may brush up against you when passing you in a hallway or reaching for an object. While inadvertent bodily contact is not always nefarious, it can be part of the initial stages of sexual harassment.
Remarks about your appearance
While there is usually nothing inherently wrong with paying someone a compliment, remarks about your appearance should not cross the professional line. If your coworkers make you feel uncomfortable, they have probably gone too far. This is especially true if your colleagues make comments about your physical attributes.
Awkward conversations about non-work matters
You may want to get to know your managers and coworkers, as strong teams generally produce a better work product. Nevertheless, if your coworkers initiate awkward conversations about non-work matters, you may be the victim of sexual harassment. Talking about your social life, romantic partners or sexual preferences may be out of bounds.
Although it can be, sexual harassment is not usually a single incident or off-handed comment. By watching for subtle signs of sexual harassment at work, you can take steps to protect yourself, your job and your employment rights.