Being the victim of sexual harassment in your workplace can be devastating. This is especially true when the harassment is coming from a manager or supervisor, but sexual harassment can come from anyone.
You may be afraid to report the harassment due to fear of losing your job or facing other penalties. You might also be wondering if what you are experiencing is sexual harassment.
Blatant forms of sexual harassment
Inappropriate touching, asking you on a date, making crude sexual gestures or forcing you to perform unwanted sexual acts are all obvious forms of sexual harassment.
However, sexual harassment often comes in much more subtle forms, which can increase your confusion over what is happening to you.
What many Colorado workers might not realize is comments, behavior or actions do not need to be sexual in nature to be legally considered sexual harassment.
Broader forms of sexual harassment
Sexual harassment can be based on ethnicity, gender identity, race, sexual orientation or stereotypes. It does not need to involve any physical contact but can be in the form of comments. The comments do not even necessarily need to be directed at you.
For example, if you are a woman, and someone in your workplace makes derogatory comments about women in general, that can still be a form of sexual harassment against you.
Not saying ‘no’ doesn’t stop something from being harassment
Your reaction has no effect on whether something is or is not sexual harassment. You may go along with a joke, smile or not say “stop” when someone harasses you. This does not stop the behavior or comments from being sexual harassment.
Additionally, whether something is sexual harassment is based on the perception of the person the behavior is directed toward. It does not matter if the person harassing you believes it is not harassment.
Helping you understand your rights and options
Reporting sexual harassment can be scary. Feelings of intimidation are natural, but you have legal rights that deserve protection.
Every situation is different. Talking with an employment attorney who can listen to your unique story can help you decide on the best course of action.