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Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: What Is and What It Isn't


According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), whether you are an employee or an applicant, it is unlawful to harass anyone due to their gender. Harassment can also be of a sexual nature and can happen between persons of the opposite or the same sex.

Whether it’s an employer or co-worker, it is considered unlawful sexual harassment if any individual’s conduct results in a hostile work environment or hinders an employee’s ability to successfully work. Not only does it entail making inappropriate advances, but sexual harassment also involves any physical or verbal behavior that is not welcomed.

Here are common instances of sexual harassment:

  1. Telling inappropriate sexual jokes or making offensive comments about someone’s gender or sexual preference
  2. Making gestures which are sexual in nature
  3. E-mail or share inappropriate images or videos with others
  4. Send sexually suggestive e-mails or notes
  5. Inappropriate touching, such as grabbing, pinching, or purposefully rubbing up against someone.
  6. Asking questions related to sex

While the law doesn’t prohibit isolated incidents, offhand comments, or simple teasing, unlawful harassment occurs frequently or it is so serious such conduct leads to a hostile work environment. For example, if an employee decides to flirt with a fellow co-worker who hasn’t expressed any interest, that is not deemed sexual harassment. But, if the fellow co-worker lets the employee know that they are not interested, not backing down or applying more pressure can be viewed as sexual harassment.

If you believe you are a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace, you can file an EEOC harassment claim. However, you must prove that your employer attempted to resolve the issue and that the party (i.e. employer, employee, third party, etc.) responsible continued their inappropriate behaviors despite warnings. Ensure you have the evidence and documentation (i.e. notes, e-mails, correspondence, or any documents that include dates and times) and report the issue with your HR department.

If your employer or HR department fails to cooperate or even retaliates, our Houston employment lawyers at Shellist Lazarz Slobin are dedicated to not only help you obtain justice in your case, but also ensure that this type of behavior never happens again at your job.

For more information, contact us and schedule a consultation today.

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