Sexual harassment is very demeaning to its victims and when it is not prevented it can cause a lot of long-term problems for those who experience it. Many people have a preconceived notion of what constitutes sexual harassment. Most people think of some kind of improper touching from one employee against another, or perhaps a superior making a threat about someone’s pay rate if they don’t dress sexier or perform some kind of sexual favor in the superior’s behalf. Those types of scenarios are definitely examples of sexual harassment. However, they are not the only kind of harassment that takes place.
Many times, simply the words someone speaks can be considered sexual harassment. Just because someone doesn’t touch or threaten another person in an inappropriate way, that does not mean sexual harassment hasn’t occurred. Even if no physical contact has been made, words can be just as harmful and offensive as physical contact. For example, if a co-worker continues to make crude or lewd jokes, or tells suggestive or obscene stories, then his or her behavior could be considered sexual harassment.
If you ask the person to refrain from such behavior and report it to your employer, but the situation doesn’t improve, then you could have grounds for a sexual harassment suit. Your employer must make every effort to see that this kind of behavior is not tolerated, just as he or she would need to prevent inappropriate physical actions. The bottom line when it comes to sexual harassment is that any behavior that is designed to make a person feel intimidated at work or that creates a hostile work environment could be considered harassment.
Some people have the false belief that it’s ok if a coworker makes crude or obscene jokes or comments. There may be some in the company who just shrug it off and make statements like: “Oh, he doesn’t mean any harm. He’s just messing around and having some fun.” However, if you find it offensive and it makes you feel uncomfortable then you have the right to ask your employer to put a stop to that behavior.
Just because someone thinks they are kidding around and having a little fun that doesn’t mean what they are doing isn’t harassment. If you feel like the actions of a coworker are offensive and that they create a hostile or intimidating work environment, then contact the Law Office of Mitchell A. Kline in Chicago today for a consultation. We will help you pursue the right course of action. Call us at 312-558-1454 or click here.