5 Examples of Subtle Sexual Harassment Workers Should Be Aware of

dupage county sexual harassment lawyer Sexual harassment falls into two broad categories: hostile work environment harassment and quid pro quo harassment. A hostile work environment is created when a co-worker, supervisor, or employer behaves in ways that make the workplace intimidating, hostile, or abusive. Quid pro quo sexual harassment involves the exchange of job-related benefits for sexual or romantic acts.

Sometimes, sexual harassment is obvious. For example, if a boss suggests to a staff member that he or she will be guaranteed a promotion if the staff member sleeps with him or her, this is a clear example of quid pro quo sexual harassment. However, sexual harassment is not always this blatant. Read on to learn about five subtle forms of sexual harassment and what you should do if you have experienced harassment at your job.  

Sexual Harassment Can Be Insidious

Multiple federal and state laws prohibit discrimination and harassment of employees based on sex or gender. Unfortunately, workplace sexual harassment continues to be a problem. Sexual harassment that is more subtle and insidious in nature may include:

  • Asking overly personal questions – Someone who wants to engage an employee in a sexually-charged conversation may ask increasingly personal and inappropriate questions under the guise of “curiosity.”

  • Physically blocking someone from leaving a situation – Some perpetrators may use their body to block an employee from leaving an area. For example, a boss may stand in the entrance to the break room so an employee cannot exit the room and avoid exposure to offensive remarks or behaviors.

  • Staring and other non-verbal actions – Many people assume that sexual harassment is always verbalized. However, harassing behaviors may include non-verbal actions like repeatedly staring at someone, looking them up and down, winking, or making kissing faces at them.

  • Using guilt trips and manipulation to secure dates with co-workers - Asking someone out on a date is not usually considered sexual harassment. However, asking again and again and refusing to take “no” for an answer may constitute sexual harassment. Some perpetrators use guilt and manipulation to coerce co-workers into going on a date or engaging in sexual activity.

  • Complimenting the employee inappropriately – Many perpetrators of sexual harassment use “compliments” to make inappropriate comments about an employee. If told to stop, they feign offense and imply that the victim is simply misinterpreting the situation.

Contact a DuPage County Sexual Harassment Lawyer

Sexual harassment is not always easily apparent. If you experience harassing or discriminatory behavior at work, report the behavior immediately. For legal help with sexual harassment and retaliation claims, contact the Wheaton sexual harassment attorneys at MKFM Law. Call 630-665-7300 for a consultation.


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