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Recognizing Signs of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Sexual harassment and sexual assault are two serious issues that workplaces have to constantly be on the lookout for. Unfortunately, despite a culture which encourages anonymous whistleblowers and reporting those who perpetrate these acts, a number of people will still refuse to come forward, leaving perpetrators to walk away consequence-free. However, you can help your co-workers who may be the victim of this harassment by learning some of the signs that they may be the victim of harassment and then speaking up for them.

Here are just a few of the most obvious signs of sexual harassment that everybody should know.

Comments & Remarks – if you notice one co-worker constantly making remarks that refer to a person’s physical appearance or genitalia, that person could be guilty of sexual harassment, especially if the remarks are directly to the person.

Inappropriate Touching – There are appropriate ways of touching other co-workers, such as shaking hands, the more modern “fist-bump”, or even a hug when appropriate or between close friends. However, touching someone’s genitalia, stroking them softly, giving unwanted massages, and more are all inappropriate for the workplace and often constitute sexual harassment.

Making Inappropriate Requests – Let’s not pretend that romances like Jim and Pam from The Office just don’t happen: an overwhelming number of former or even current co-workers begin to develop relationships outside of work. However, a co-worker repeatedly asking another one out or even being more blunt and requesting sex is easily considered sexual harassment.

Sexually Graphic Material – Co-workers have to exchange contact information for a variety of reasons, and it’s not unheard of for some co-workers to abuse this privilege. Sending sexually-graphic material via electronic communication (text messages, email address, or other methods) is sexual harassment.

Sexually Explicit Literature – You know that chain email with a dirty joke that probably shouldn’t be passed around the office in the first place? You probably shouldn’t be forwarding it at all, and forwarding it to someone could be considered sexual harassment.

Sexual harassment is a serious issue, one which workplaces around the country are taking massive steps to try to prevent. Companies have an obligation to take action when someone reports an employee for sexual harassment, including conducting an investigation. It’s also not a bad idea to have a legal representative involved if you have been harassed to ensure you are not unjustly retaliated against, as supervisors have been known to attempt to fire subordinates who reported them for their sexual harassment actions.

An Atlanta employment attorney can help you with your case! Call Buckley Beal, LLP today at (404) 471-3725 to request a case evaluation and get help with your workplace harassment issue.
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