Modern workplaces continue to undergo changes that make life as a worker easier than ever before. Unfortunately, even as these advancements occur, workplaces throughout the United States remain plagued by sexual harassment.
If you have been subjected to unwanted behavior or contact at work, it is important to know your rights and legal options for putting a stop to the harassment. You don’t have to endure a hostile work environment. Help is available. To learn more, please see our overview of putting a stop to sexual harassment in Missouri workplaces.
Following are unfortunately common examples of unwanted behavior and contact at work:
Improper images at work
Sexual images in the workplace often amount to sexual harassment. Such cases may involve videos playing on a coworker’s computer, pictures on a coworker’s phone, or images left on a coworker’s desk. In many cases, the improper images are left intentionally in view for other employees to see.
The first thing to note is that sexual harassment does not have to involve physical contact or assault. Such cases of violence often gain the most attention in the media for obvious reasons, but many cases of sexual harassment involve no physical contact whatsoever.
For example, indecent exposure makes up a number of such cases. This sometimes happens in person, with the perpetrator exposing his or herself in front of the victim directly. More often in recent years, it involves graphic images sent through text message, email or social media.
Threats and coercion
Coercion and threats with a sexual motivation are also a type of sexual harassment. For example, if an employer threatens an employee with a demotion if they do not perform a sexual act or go on a date with the employer, this is sexual harassment – even if the victim never performs the sexual act or goes on the date, or the demotion never happens.
Derogatory or sexually suggestive remarks
Derogatory remarks based on someone’s sex that are not obviously sexual in nature may also be sexual harassment. This may include stating that someone should not hold their position due to their sex or gender. Making sexually suggestive remarks at work is also a type of sexual harassment.
Legal protections for victims
These are just some examples of inappropriate workplace behaviors that can constitute sexual harassment. Remember: Every woman has a story. Sexual harassment can be obvious, or it can be very subtle but just as harmful. It’s important to understand that victims of such conduct have rights under the law – and the power to hold perpetrators accountable.