Victims of workplace sexual harassment often keep quiet because they fear the consequences of retaliation or losing their job. Others do not speak up because they are not sure if the mistreatment qualifies as sexual harassment. In some unfortunate cases, they wait too long and end up getting seriously hurt; many cannot tell the difference between inappropriate behavior and true sexual harassment.
An author who contributes to Entrepreneur magazine wrote an article that describes six levels of sexual harassment. He stated that severe cases are easier to distinguish, but the borderline ones can lead to confusion on the victim’s part. Conflicting signals from harassers can make their targets unsure about the situation, even though they feel offended.
According to the author, seemingly innocent actions, such as compliments directed at an employee’s sexual or physical attributes, can be a starting point for increased levels of harassment. Sexual jokes, winking, and other facial expressions can seem harmless at first, even if they are offensive. He also describes mental groping, which is more invasive. Examples of this would include crude innuendos, directly suggestive comments, and staring at a co-worker’s body parts. Even though the abuser has not made physical contact at this point, the victim may feel as though they did.
Initial Physical Contact
Offenders will often start to touch other employees in seemingly non-threatening ways, like placing their hand around a waist or touching a shoulder. This social touching can happen around others or in private and can be frequent and unwelcome. He goes on to discuss foreplay harassment, which is a step further. The abuser’s hand may brush up against another employee’s breast, stomach, or behind. Touching these more sensitive areas is a strategy for requesting sexual favors.
The author defines sexual harassment as true sexual abuse when the touching is of a sexual nature. This includes brushing up, pinching, or grabbing a sexual body part. Direct sexual propositions or threats that attempt to force compliance are also classic examples of sexual harassment. When an outright sexual assault, or the threat of one, causes the victim harm, it becomes a criminal case.
Understanding the Levels
The article includes behaviors that seem mild at first and works its way down to more serious levels to show how abusers work. Victims may not be concerned with rude comments at first, but it can escalate into something more threatening. He considers all of it to be sexual harassment, and it can start slowly and build up over time.
The author feels that traditional ways of dealing with sexual harassment have not been successful enough and thinks that companies should focus on specific tools and behavioral concepts, such as categorizing the abuse with levels. He added that the level system can help employees to better communicate their problems to their employers.
Montgomery County Sexual Harassment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Help Victims of Workplace Sexual Harassment
You do not have to put up with any type of sexual harassment at your workplace. Now is the time to fight for your rights by contacting the experienced Montgomery County sexual harassment lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Located in Philadelphia, we help clients throughout: Bucks County, Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Wilkes-Barre, and Scranton. Call us at 215-569-1999 or complete an online form for a free consultation.