Inappropriate Behavior May Be Verbal Harassment
Most people are aware that inappropriate touching and overt sexual advances generally constitute sexual harassment in the workplace. Verbal sexual harassment, however, includes more than just requests for physical acts and obvious catcalls. Unfortunately, many types of verbal harassment are obscured by what society tends to consider “normal behavior,” but “normal” does not make such conduct acceptable. If the behavior is consistent and unwanted—and you have made it clear that you want it to stop—you could have grounds to file a sexual harassment complaint.
What Is Verbal Harassment?
It is important to understand that verbal harassment can include suggestions, jokes, or innuendoes. It can also include a co-worker or supervisor asking inappropriate personal questions or sharing intimate details of his or her sex life. In many cases, verbal sexual harassment will be perpetrated subtly against all workers of one gender in a particular work setting, but just because no one person is singled out does not mean that it is not harassment.
If you have witnessed this type of sexual harassment, you can report it, even if you were not the direct victim. When this type of conduct makes the workplace a hostile or uncomfortable place, sexual harassment can be reported by any employee—even if he or she was not the target or subject of the behavior. Verbal sexual harassment must be gauged on how it impacted a victim, not on the intent of the perpetrator.
Sometimes, however, jokes of a sexual nature or other sexual remarks may not be considered harassment; it depends on the context, frequency, and whether or not the victim made known the behavior was unwanted. Light teasing or minor, isolated incidents may make a person uncomfortable but might not rise to the level of sexual harassment or gender discrimination. Finding other victims or alleged victims with similar experiences could help you determine whether or not you have a legitimate case.
Seek Legal Guidance
If you have witnessed or been the victim of workplace behavior that could be considered sexual harassment, it is important to contact an experienced DuPage County sexual harassment attorney. At MKFM Law, we can help you analyze your case and will work with you in deciding how to proceed. Call 630-665-7300 for a confidential consultation with a member of our team today.