How to recognize verbal sexual harassment in the workplace

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2023 | Employment Law |

While work should be a safe space for employees, many report facing sexual harassment at work. Verbal sexual harassment includes sexual language or comments meant to intimidate, demean or make a person uncomfortable.

About 2/3 of all women experience sexual harassment in their lifetime, much of which happens in the workplace. While women tend to be the most common targets, many men struggle with harassment.

Innuendos and suggestive comments

Verbal harassment tends to include innuendos, jokes and sexual comments. The harasser may make inappropriate remarks about a person’s body, appearance or clothing. He or she may also comment on another person’s sexuality or make inappropriate comments about the target’s personal life to demean or objectify him or her.

Sexual harassment does not include poorly thought-out, inappropriate jokes, however, as long as the person does not consistently make them. Sexual harassment involves persistence and the goal of making someone uncomfortable.

Propositions and sexual advances

Outright and explicit sexual harassment includes sexual advancements or propositions. When you arrive at work, you should not have to worry about requests for sexual favors or invitations to engage in sexual activities. Unsolicited invitations can become hostile and uncomfortable. If you feel vulnerable or pushed to have a sexual relationship with a colleague or supervisor, you may have a sexual harassment claim.

Men and women may fear claiming sexual harassment when uncertain about what constitutes harassment in the workplace. Keep in mind that verbal harassment also includes online and text conversations. No one has the right to engage in cyberbullying because of your sexuality or to send you unsolicited sexual conversations.