A coworker asks you if you’d like to go on a date sometime. You’re not interested and you tell them so, but it gets you thinking. Was that appropriate behavior for the workplace?
You know that unwanted sexual advances are a form of harassment. The date was unwanted and you did not give them any indication that you wanted a romantic or sexual relationship, so did they take things too far?
How long has this behavior been going on?
One of the biggest questions to ask here is how long they have been asking you for a date. Was this the first time, or have they asked repeatedly?
If this was the first time and they had no idea that you weren’t interested, asking for a date is typically not harassment. Ideally, they were kind and respectful when you turned them down, and they have not asked again.
However, if they have made a habit of asking you repeatedly and pestering you about starting a relationship with them, it can turn into harassment. You should not have to go to work every day knowing that they’re going to refuse to leave you alone or that they won’t take a refusal for an answer.
It can also be harassment if there are other factors involved. For instance, if they are your boss and imply that you need to date them or see your position at the company disappear, that can be sexual harassment even if it’s the first time they’ve approached you.
Putting an end to harassment
Workers have legal protections against sexual harassment. If you’ve been subjected to it, you must know what steps you can take to protect your career and your future. Nobody should have to put up with that kind of behavior at work, and an experienced advocate can help.