A hostile work environment is one where any employee feels uncomfortable or unsafe. The behavior of their co-workers or supervisors affects the employee’s ability to work effectively. One of the worst reasons an employee may feel their work environment is hostile is when they are experiencing sexual harassment.
Regardless of who the victim or perpetrator is, no one should ever tolerate any form of sexual harassment. The problem is these acts can be difficult to report because of subtlety or lack of evidence. A lewd remark is enough to constitute sexual harassment, but others take it lightly. They even go as far as to demean the victim. They are downplaying the traumatizing behavior as a joke exacerbated by the victim’s sensitivity. If you are experiencing sexual harassment, you have every right to be upset.
What are the subtle signs of sexual harassment?
When sexual harassment is subtle, it can be harder to recognize. An employee may not even realize the person is sexually traumatizing them; thus, they would not feel it warrants appropriate legal action. Here are some examples of unacceptable ways a person can experience sexual harassment in the workplace:
- Inappropriate jokes and remarks with a sexual connotation
- Looking at an employee up and down in a suggestive or lustful manner
- Quid pro quo offers or indecent proposals
- Intentional or accidental physical contact, such as poking, hugging or brushing against the body part of an employee
- Comments about an employee’s physical experience disguised as a compliment
- Constantly asking an employee out on a date despite rejection
You should not have to tolerate any of this. The law protects your rights as an employee to work in an environment where you feel safe and secure.
Action against sexual harassment
In Minnesota, sexual harassment is a form of workplace discrimination. It is illegal. If you are experiencing any form of sexual harassment, the Minnesota Human Rights Act allows you to pursue a hostile work environment claim. You deserve to work in an environment free from physical, emotional and mental harm.