Signs You Are Experiencing Sexual Harassment at Work | Mann & Elias
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Signs You Are Experiencing Sexual Harassment at Work

Signs of Workplace Sexual Harassment to Be Aware Of

According to the EEOC, around 75% of employees who experience workplace harassment fail to bring it up with their employer. A major reason is the fear that they will be retaliated against at work. Another reason is that employees who are subjected to inappropriate conduct aren’t clear when it’s considered illegal harassment.

Sexual harassment in the workplace can create an uncomfortable and illegal environment for employees. When harassment is taking place, the signs may not be so obvious or noticeable. The EEOC defines sexual harassment as “requests for sexual favors, un-welcomed sexual advances, and physical or verbal harassment of a sexual nature.”

Sexual harassment is not a clear-cut case in most states. For the harassment to be considered unlawful, it has to be frequent or severe enough to create a hostile work environment. The courts determine that harassment is illegal when a reasonable person considers the behavior to be unwelcoming. To know whether harassment is frequent, one has to know what to look for.

Types of Workplace Sexual Harassment

  1. Quid Pro Quo 
    It is a form of harassment where a senior person requests sexual favors from their staff. It takes many forms, and these violations are committed impliedly or expressly. Any form of benefit promised in exchange for sexual favor is harassment.
  2. Hostile Work Environment
    This type of harassment is conduct that makes it hard for a person to do their job. It creates an abusive work environment. This form of workplace harassment is not like quid pro quo. It focuses on how offensive or hostile the nature of conduct is as a whole and not a single incident. This type of harassment can happen to an individual or group at the workplace.
  3. ”Non-Direct” Sexual Harassment
    Quid pro quo and hostile work environments are direct forms of sexual harassment. In simple terms, the conduct is only directed towards one person or a group of individuals.With ”Non-Direct”, another person is offended by sexual misconduct inflicted on another person.

    Sexual harassment in the workplace is not always easy to objectively identify. Fortunately, there are clear signs of true offensive behavior, as well as protections in place to combat this offensive behavior.

Signs of Workplace Sexual Harassment

Some workplace behaviors that are clearly sexual harassment are unwanted kissing or touching, other forms of sexual assault, requests for sexual favors, making sexually explicit comments, uninvited massages, sexually suggestive gestures, and catcalls.

While these forms of sexual harassment happen in the workplace, more subtle forms of harassment are also on the rise. Any of these actions are sexual harassment if they happen often or severe enough to make an employee uncomfortable, intimidated, or distracted enough to interfere with their work:

  • repeated compliments of an employee’s appearance
  • commenting on the attractiveness of others in front of an employee
  • discussing one’s sex life in front of an employee
  • asking an employee about their sex life
  • circulating nude (or seminude) photos in the workplace
  • making sexual jokes
  • sending sexually suggestive texts or emails
  • leaving unwanted gifts of a sexual or romantic nature
  • spreading sexual rumors about an employee
  • repeated hugs or other unwanted touching

However, sexual harassment does not necessarily have to explicitly be of a sexual nature. It’s important to understand that this type of harassment includes offensive comments about a person’s sex, whether they are male or female.

The problem is that sexual harassment can come in many forms, so it’s difficult to have a one-size-fits-all definition of it. It can also happen to anyone, regardless of sex, gender, or sexual orientation. The generally agreed-upon criteria, though, includes sexualized verbal or physical harassment, unwanted sexual advances, and requests for sexual favors— often in exchange for something else.

Sexual Harassment Facts to Keep in Mind

  • Sexist comments and actions are also harassment: Under Title VII, offensive conduct that is based on an employee’s gender and severe or pervasive enough to create a hostile work environment is illegal.
  • Sexual harassment by customers or clients. Under Title VII, an employer has a responsibility to protect its employees from sexual harassment by outsiders. This includes customers, clients, vendors, business partners, and more. As long as the employer knows or should know that the harassment is occurring, it must take action to put a stop to it.
  • Sexual harassment isn’t gender-based. Same-sex harassment by a male against a male or a female against a female is also illegal. The harassment only needs to be based on the victim’s gender and does not need to be motivated by sexual desire.

Sexual harassment is a gray area for many workers. Some employees don’t recognize they’re being sexually harassed until long after the incident happens because they don’t know what constitutes sexual harassment or how to know if that’s what they’re experiencing.

If you think you’re a victim of sexual harassment at your workplace, here are some precautionary steps you can take to protect yourself:

  1. Keep an active record of discriminatory practices
  2. Revisit the employee handbook for instructions
  3. Make a note of the time, date, and specific events that unfolded
  4. Consult with an attorney if you have any trouble with the first three tips

You’re Not Alone

We can help you understand how this behavior becomes illegal when it occurs frequently or is so severe it creates an offensive or hostile work environment.

Workplace disputes and negotiations can be complicated and uncomfortable between an employee and employer. In some cases, an employer can retaliate, causing employees to feel that they are at a great disadvantage in the company. When you retain one of our lawyers, you will be well-protected and advised.

Los Angeles Sexual Harassment Employment Attorney

The Law Offices of Mann & Elias is an employment law firm that provides guidance and legal support for individuals facing issues in the workplace. When your case is in our hands, we hope to minimize stress and concerns associated with work.

At Mann & Elias, the employment law attorney and the client are a team. We treat our clients with respect and understanding for their needs, goals and objectives. Our goal is to understand what you need and achieve the best outcome for you by focusing on those needs.

For dedicated representation with no upfront fees, contact us by phone at 323-866-9564 or by email at

Why Choose Mann & Elias?

Since our partnership began over 20 years ago, we have settled hundreds of claims, completed 100 jury and bench trials, and recovered more than $18 million in settlements. While there are thousands of lawyers to choose from, we strongly believe our success is based on:

  • 50+ years of trial experience
  • Excellent advocacy skills
  • Intense preparation and research
  • Quality care

In the end, our goal is to understand what you need and achieve the best outcome for you by focusing on those needs.


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