Sexual Harassment At The Workplace: 7 Things To Know


A workplace should be an environment where employers and employees feel confident and supported in their roles. It should be a place where team members collaborate effectively, drawing on each other’s strengths. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. With misconduct like sexual harassment occurring in offices, many employees who become victims feel threatened and intimidated, leading to decreased productivity.

It’s essential for everyone to recognize when specific actions cross the line into sexual harassment and know what steps to take if they experience it at work. This article aims to help you understand what sexual harassment is and what to do if you find yourself a victim. Continue reading to learn more.

  • What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advance that causes the victim to feel humiliated, intimidated, and offended. If someone touches or speaks to you inappropriately to satisfy their sexual urges, they are sexually harassing you. According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), at least one in five employees experience sexual harassment at work, either physically or psychologically. This statistic highlights the need to address sexual harassment as a global issue.

  • How Do You Handle Sexual Harassment?

You can handle sexual harassment informally or formally. In some cases, an informal approach, such as addressing the issue directly with the harasser, might be appropriate. However, it’s essential to prioritize your safety and well-being. Consider having a trusted colleague accompany you when confronting the harasser.

Alternatively, you can report the issue to the person responsible for handling sexual harassment in your company. This way, they can address the case effectively without putting you at risk.

Regarding formal measures, you can file a lawsuit, especially if the misconduct involves physical assault. At this point, it’s crucial to choose the right sexual harassment attorney to help you navigate the legal process, as your harasser might argue that you consented to the acts.

  • Is Sexual Harassment A Crime?

Sexual harassment is not necessarily referred to as a crime because it is typically addressed as a civil lawsuit rather than a criminal case. However, there are instances where sexual harassment can include acts of crime, especially when it violates a criminal statute. Some of the most common criminal acts associated with sexual harassment include:

  • Assault And Battery: When the victim is physically hurt
  • Rape: When the harasser uses force, threat, or fraud to engage in unwanted intercourse with the victim
  • Stalking: When the victim fears for their safety
  • Sexual Assault: Involving inappropriate touching to satisfy sexual urges
  • Indecent Exposure: Exposing someone’s genitals in public without their consent

Some of these acts are felonies, while others are misdemeanors. Additional penalties accompany sexual harassment that involves criminal acts. However, most of them require physical assault rather than verbal comments.

  • What Are Different Types Of Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment can take various forms, including unwelcome sexual messages, inappropriate touching, or speech that makes you feel sexually intimidated. In general, sexual harassment is characterized by:

  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Physical sexual assault
  • Inappropriate sexual advances
  • Verbal comments of a sexual nature
  • Pressure to perform sexual acts
  • Sending unwanted sexual photos and messages

In some cases, employees report feeling coerced into engaging in unwanted sexual acts with employers to gain promotions or avoid being fired.

  • Who Experiences Sexual Harassment At Work?

Sexual harassment at work can affect people of all genders and sexual orientations. Anyone, regardless of gender, can also sexually harass a colleague. In most instances, victims of workplace sexual harassment are targeted by employers or individuals in positions of authority. Clients can also harass and threaten to terminate contracts if you don’t concede to their advances. In summary, anyone can experience sexual harassment from anyone they work with.

  • Who Is Liable For Sexual Harassment At Work?

While the harasser is primarily responsible for their misconduct, employers can also be held accountable for incidents occurring within their company. It’s vital for employers to take necessary measures to prevent such incidents from happening. Employers should establish and enforce clear policies and procedures that address sexual harassment in the workplace.

  • What Are The Effects Of Sexual Harassment At Work?

Sexual harassment at work can have numerous adverse effects on victims. These may include difficulty performing duties, loss of confidence, fear, shame, inability to relax, and poor concentration. In severe cases, the victim might quit or be fired for failing to deliver.

The emotional and psychological consequences of harassment should not be overlooked, as victims may experience anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).



Sexual harassment affects millions of workers worldwide, and people of all genders and sexual orientations can be impacted. It can negatively influence an individual’s productivity, leading to low self-esteem and even job termination. Creating a workplace culture that supports and protects employees from sexual harassment should be a top priority for employers. If you’re currently experiencing sexual harassment at work, contact the appropriate parties or take legal action to put a stop to it.