Examples of Different Types of Sexual Harassment at Work

sexual harassment at work examples

Sexual harassment occurs in the workplace when an employee or job applicant is subjected to unwanted and inappropriate sexual remarks, sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, or verbal or physical assaults of a sexual nature. Sexual harassment may take the form of demands for sexual favors in exchange for continued employment or job advancement or acts so pervasive that they create a hostile work environment.

Employers should establish policies, provide training, and take other necessary steps to prevent or stop sexual harassment in the workplace and enable victims to report sexual harassment. Employers should clearly communicate to employees what constitutes sexual harassment and that it will not be tolerated.

The Tallahassee workplace sexual harassment lawyers of Cruz Law Firm, P.A., are committed to representing employees who have been subjected to sexual harassment or other workplace misconduct. Our legal team has brought hundreds of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination cases to litigation in Florida. We are aggressive and dedicated advocates who will fight back on your behalf.

If you have been sexually harassed in your workplace or while applying for a job, reach out to a Tallahassee workplace sexual harassment attorney at Cruz Law today. We can help you hold wrongdoers accountable.

Does Sexual Harassment Occur In Your Workplace?

Not all interaction of a sexual nature between coworkers is harassment. First and foremost, harassment is unwanted behavior. Even when it’s uninvited, light teasing or offhand comments don’t necessarily create a hostile work environment or a sexual demand.

Acts in the workplace constitute harassment when they create an environment of pervasive hostility, intimidation, or offense that makes it difficult for an individual to concentrate on doing their job.

Sometimes a single severe incident, such as flagrant sexual touching or a blatant quid pro quo demand, is sufficient for making a sexual harassment claim. But more often, it is the frequency or pattern of offensive acts that add up to sexual harassment. An employee or job applicant may be punished for refusing to submit to unwanted sexual advances.

Here are some…

Examples of behavior that would likely constitute workplace sexual harassment

Verbal Harassment

  • Unwanted and unrelenting sexual teasing or sexual innuendo
  • Using unwelcome pet names or descriptions, such as honey, baby, sweetie, hunk, hottie, etc
  • Whistling, catcalls, kissing sounds, howling, smacking lips
  • Making derogatory comments or jokes that target someone’s gender, sexual orientation, sexual identity, or sex life
  • Injecting sexual comments into routine work discussions
  • Sexual comments about an individual’s body, clothing, or appearance
  • Unwanted sexual advances, such as repeatedly propositioning a co-worker for sex or dates
  • Asking a co-worker about their sexual history, dating or marital status, or what or who they find sexually attractive
  • Spreading rumors about a person’s sex life
  • Talking about sexual acts or exploits in a graphic manner
  • Demanding sexual favors in exchange for job benefits, such as hiring, promotion, a pay raise, or favorable work assignments
  • Demanding sexual favors with or without threatening an applicant’s or worker’s employment status or physical safety.

Non-verbal Harassment

  • Making gestures, body movements, or facial expressions that may be interpreted as sexually suggestive or obscene
  • Inappropriate display of sexual images or objects, such as sexually explicit photos, cartoons, computer wallpapers or screensavers, figurines, sex toys, novelty candies, or baked goods
  • Sending sexually suggestive, graphic, or demeaning emails, texts, or posts to social media or office group communications
  • Unwanted attention, such as leering or staring at a co-worker or tracking their movements
  • Repeatedly isolating, ignoring, or excluding someone based on their gender, sexual orientation, or sexual identity

Physical Harassment

  • Unwanted touching, such as hugging, kissing, caressing, pinching, fondling, or otherwise touching a co-worker’s hair, clothing, or intimate body parts. An actual or attempted rape or sexual assault is a major crime. It should be reported to the police.
  • Exposing, touching, or rubbing oneself sexually around another person
  • Standing unnecessarily close to, leaning over, cornering or blocking the path of a co-worker, or brushing up against them
  • Making gestures, body movements, or facial expressions that may be interpreted as sexually suggestive or obscene

Cyber Harassment

  • Cyberstalking, which is a crime in Florida. It includes such behavior as sending harassing text messages or emails, sharing or distributing private information, posting or sharing nude or sexual photos of another person, or otherwise repeatedly and maliciously sending electronic communications that cause another person serious emotional distress with no legitimate purpose.
  • Posting sexual comments or images of or linked to a co-worker on social media or other digital platforms
  • Sending a co-worker sexually suggestive, graphic, or demeaning content in email or text messages (“sexting”)
  • Sending a co-worker identifiable or disguised links to sexually suggestive, graphic, or demeaning material online

How to Respond to Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

You do not have to be the target of abuse to understand that sexual harassment in the workplace is wrong and should not be tolerated. Florida law requires employers to have procedures in place so that employees may report sexual harassment and their complaints will be investigated and resolved.

An individual who is a target of sexual harassment or a witness to harassment in the workplace should feel confident that he or she can report what has happened without fear of retribution. Retaliation for reporting sexual harassment in the workplace is illegal under Florida and federal law.

If sexual harassment is a problem where you work, you should report it to your company’s human resources department or director. If you have an employee or policy manual, you should consult it and follow its instructions for reporting complaints of harassment in the workplace.

Before filing a complaint, you should gather any evidence to show what has been going on, such as emails, texts, copies of photos, or printed material. Write out what you have witnessed and present a written complaint to your company’s HR department. Keep a copy of your complaint and every other piece of evidence you have gathered.

If your employer’s response to your sexual harassment complaint is not satisfactory, you may file a complaint with the Florida Commission on Human Relations (FCHR) or the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). These agencies investigate complaints about unlawful discrimination and may attempt to mediate a settlement.

Employers can be held liable for sexual harassment if they knew or should have known that harassment was occurring in the workplace but they failed to take reasonable steps to stop or prevent the harassment. Your employer may be required to pay compensation to a sexual harassment victim(s) as well as to commit to making changes in the workplace.

If the FCHR or EEOC cannot settle the issue to your satisfaction, you may be able to proceed with a lawsuit to demand compensation and/or other relief, such as reinstatement to your job.

We suggest that you speak to a workplace sexual harassment attorney with Cruz Law Firm in Tallahassee as soon as your employer does not address your complaint in a satisfactory manner. There are specific rules and deadlines you must follow when making a complaint to the FCHR or the EEOC.

If you must pursue a federal lawsuit to settle the case appropriately, you will have only 90 days from notice by the state or federal agency to file the suit. You will need an attorney to file a federal lawsuit, and will fare better if you already have one who is familiar with your case.

Talk to a Sexual Harassment Lawyer in Tallahassee Today

If you have been subjected to sexual harassment or sexual demands at your job or while applying for a job, you have the right to demand that it stop! Both state and federal laws expressly forbid sexual harassment in the workplace and provide means to hold your employer accountable for what they have let you suffer.

Let an employment law attorney at Cruz Law Firm, P.A., help you understand your legal options for fighting sexual harassment in the workplace and learn how we can provide the assistance and support you need during this difficult time. Our workplace harassment attorneys have more than 18 years of combined legal experience and are dedicated to representing employees in matters involving workplace misconduct, discrimination, and unjust treatment. We have prevailed in many of Florida’s toughest employment-related lawsuits, and we can work to obtain justice for you.

Our lawyers represent workers in Tallahassee, Jacksonville, and across the Florida Panhandle. Contact Cruz Law today for a free and confidential consultation with a Tallahassee workplace sexual harassment attorney who’s ready to fight for you.