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Subtle signs of sexual harassment in the workplace

Nearly two years ago, the #Metoo movement swept through the United States, leading to the downfall of several high-profile men—most notably, Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer and Fox CEO Roger Ailes—who also were shown to be sexual abusers or sexual harassers.

Since then, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission saw an 12% increase in sexual harassment charges for 2018. Yet, sexual harassment is not always so obvious as an unwanted touch or sexual advance.

What leads to a hostile work environment?

Here are some more subtle forms of sexual harassment that can lead to creating a hostile work environment and are still against the law:

  • Someone using frequent sexual innuendoes in jokes and stories
  • Someone asking you questions of a sexual nature or pointing conversations toward a sexual nature
  • Someone discussing your sex life to others, even through rumors or lies
  • Someone physically blocking your path or not allowing you to move freely
  • Someone who rubs up against you or massages your shoulders without asking for your consent
  • Someone who insults your gender identity or makes lewd comments about your sexual orientation

While any of these might not seem that egregious the first time they happen, repeated sexual harassment can make you more and more uncomfortable and hinder you from doing your job to your best ability.

What if you are the target of sexual harassment?

If you feel you have been the target of sexual harassment, first tell the person who is harassing you that you want them to stop their behavior. Also, document every conversation or act that you feel was inappropriate.

You will have to report sexual harassment to your human resources department and supervisor if it continues. Also, consult an experienced employment law attorney if you feel your concerns are not being address properly. Under Florida law, employees only have 300 days to make a sexual harassment claim with the EEOC.

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