Does workplace sexual harassment require physical contact?
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Does workplace sexual harassment require physical contact?

On Behalf of | Feb 23, 2022 | Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment can take many forms, and many involve no physical touch whatsoever.

In fact, when physical contact does occur, it often heads into the territory of sexual assault, which then becomes a criminal matter rather than a civil one.

What are some non-touch-related forms of sexual harassment?

Vocal harassment

Wolf-whistling or cat-calling is not a harmless appreciation of a woman’s beauty. It is harassment. The same occurs if the person being whistled at is male.

Someone discussing what they would like to “do to you” or making sexually related comments about how you dress could also give grounds to claim sexual harassment. It applies whether they made the comments directly to you or when talking with others.

Image harassment

Someone posting photos of naked women washing cars above your desk as a “joke” could again justify a harassment lawsuit.

If, however, a colleague sends intimate photos of you by text or prints them and posts them on the workplace noticeboard, you may prefer to bring criminal charges against them. You might still bring a civil action against your employer if they did not do enough to prevent it or did not deal with your complaint adequately.

Quid pro quo harassment 

This means someone asks you to do something sexual for them in return for something. For instance, your boss tells you that you should start to dress more sexily if you want that promotion.

How do I know what to do if someone has harassed me?


Your employer should have their reporting procedures clearly displayed. Following those is a good first step. If they do not have them up, that alone could help you bring a case against them for failing to fulfill their duties to provide you with a safe working environment.

If you are unsure or feel it needs more serious attention, seek legal help to understand more about your options.

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