Amid many high-profile sexual harassment claims in recent years, there have been common sentiments of anger and frustration, but also fear. Some people argue that the law is becoming oversensitive to flirtation and friendliness and that people could accidentally be found guilty of harassment at work. This is simply not the case.
There is a clear legal difference between being friendly or flirtatious and engaging in sexual harassment. Harassment is not something that a socially apt person can accidentally partake in. It requires repeated or categorically inappropriate behavior that creates a hostile environment in the workplace. The following are some key aspects of sexual harassment.
It involves an intention
Those who engage in sexual harassment have a clear intention. They may want to start a relationship of some form with the victim. Alternatively, they may want to make the victim feel uncomfortable or embarrassed. They may be determined to gain acknowledgment.
It is not reciprocated
Harassment is always unwelcome behavior; therefore, the victim will have shown either directly or indirectly that they do not want the behavior to continue.
It often involves an abuse of power
Not all instances of sexual harassment involve an abuse of power, but it is a common trait. A manager may try to influence their employee’s behavior by promising a promotion, for example. This is a key marker of sexual harassment, and abusing power is never accidental.
If you believe that you have been sexually harassed at work, you have the right to report this without fear of retaliation. It is important that you do not allow your career to suffer by ignoring such behavior.