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What is considered to be sexual harassment in the workplace?

Sexual harassment is a problem in many workplaces across the United States, but it may be under-reported. People may choose not to report harassment because of fearing losing their jobs or being retaliated against, which would make doing their jobs much more difficult.

It is unlawful for anyone to harass an applicant or employee due to their sex. Harassment can include:

  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Verbal harassment of a sexual nature
  • Physical sexual harassment
  • Unwelcome sexual advances
  • Offensive remarks about the person's sex

While women are more likely to be victims of harassment, both men and women can be harassed. The harasser can also be of either sex, including the same sex of the victim.

Does the law prohibit teasing?

Technically, the law doesn't prohibit offhand comments, teasing or isolated incidents that aren't serious or threatening. By law, sexual harassment becomes illegal when it creates a work environment that is hostile or offensive.

Can a customer be accused of sexual harassment?

Interestingly, yes. The harasser can be a client or a customer. The harasser can also be a co-worker, supervisor, the owner of the company or anyone who sees you in the workplace.

Whether it's due to embarrassment, fear for your job or other reasons, it's not helpful if you decide not to report the incident. Your attorney can help protect you against unfair treatment and make sure you are not retaliated against or lose your income. Your concerns are valid and should be taken seriously by anyone you speak to, but if they aren't, your attorney can help you fight back.

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