When you’re dealing with a peer’s or superior’s unwanted advances, it can be hard to want to do your work. You might feel scared, angry or frustrated by the situation. It can be embarrassing not to be able to put a stop to the behaviors that are bothering you.
Whether you’re 16 or 56, being harassed on the job is unacceptable. Regardless of who does it, you have protections that are given to you through the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). It’s your right to report this behavior and to take steps to put a stop to it.
Unwelcome behavior is just that: Unwelcome
When you tell someone that something they’ve said to you is inappropriate, the appropriate response is to apologize and not to do it again. When people persist in hitting on you, being sexually suggestive or otherwise making you uncomfortable, that becomes a problem.
While people can consent to certain conduct or even welcome it, if you’ve been clear that you do not welcome the conduct that you’ve been exposed to, then it needs to stop.
Sexual harassment includes many kinds of situations, such as unwanted:
- Pressure for sexual favors
- Letters, phone calls, sexual materials
- Sexual looks and gestures
- pinching, leaning over, cornering or touching
Other actions that may be sexual harassment include:
- Hugging, kissing or stroking
- “Elevator eyes”
- Staring at someone directly
- Cat calls
- Referring to another adult as a doll, baby, babe, honey, sugar, girl, etc.
These aren’t all the possible actions that could be considered sexual harassment. If you’re a victim, speak up. You have rights, and one of those rights is to feel safe while you’re at work. Our site has more on what you can do to help yourself.