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Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Christine Batten, PHR
by Christine Batten, PHR on February 20, 2018

examples of sexual harassment in the workplaceSexual harassment in the workplace is more common than you might think and costs employers millions of dollars each year in settlements, attorneys’ fees and court costs. This is just one of the many reasons why identifying examples of sexual harassment in the workplace and educating your team about how to prevent them is critical.

If you’re a small or medium sized business owner, the cost of just one sexual harassment case could potentially sink your ship. In addition, sexual harassment in the workplace can have a detrimental effect on your company culture and employee morale.

Five Things You May Not Know about Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

  1. The victim as well as the harasser may be a woman or a man. The victim does not have to be of the opposite sex.
  2. The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker or a non-employee.
  3. The victim does not have to be the person harassed but could be anyone affected by the offensive conduct.
  4. Unlawful sexual harassment may occur without economic injury to or discharge of the victim.
  5. The harasser's conduct must be unwelcome.

Your staff spends a lot of time together – sometimes as much as or more than they spend at home – so forming relationships is natural. Some of the bonds are harmless, but others wander into dangerous territory. It’s your job to make sure your organization is a comfortable, respectful and safe place for everyone to work by identifying workplace harassment examples and ensuring that they are prevented.

That’s why training every supervisor and employee on examples of sexual harassment in the workplace (and all other forms of harassment and discrimination) is vital. Taking a proactive approach to preventing sexual harassment in your workplace is key to avoiding both repercussions in the office and trouble in the courts.

Sometimes, examples of sexual harassment in the workplace can happen right in front of you, and you may not even realize it. It can be as simple as repeatedly asking someone on a date or even telling a joke. Below is a list of the most common examples of sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Top Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

  • When a person stands too close to another person and talks in an intimate way.
  • When a person looks or comments on someone else's body in a way that makes that person feel uncomfortable.
  • When a person asks another person about his or her romantic experiences.
  • When a person insists on talking to others about his or her own romantic experiences.
  • When a person tries to get others to talk about a picture, movie or song that's sexual in nature.

According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), simple teasing, off-hand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious are not considered unlawful. However, when the behavior becomes so chronic or severe that it  creates a hostile or offensive work environment or results in an adverse work event, that's unlawful.

Do you have additional questions about how to protect yourself and your employees? Be sure to check out our webinar on sexual harassment in the workplace. 

Partnering with FrankCrum grants you access to a team of HR experts. If you have questions about any HR-related issues, call 1-866-697-6576.

One Sexual Harassment Lawsuit Can Cost You Millions


Christine Batten, PHR
Christine Batten, PHR

Christine has over 20 years of HR related experience with a background in labor and employment law.