Written by: John Dalton
| Read Time: 4 minutes

When someone in your workplace sexually harasses you, knowing common examples of workplace sexual harassment is one of your most important assets.

You need to know about your rights against unlawful harassment and your employer’s obligations to protect you. Knowing some examples might help you in deciding to take legal action. 

Please read below for typical examples of sexual harassment in the workplace. And if you are a victim of harassment, call the Law Office of John Dalton. We have the passion, experience, and proven track record to help you hold your harasser and employer accountable. 

How Does the Law Define Sexual Harassment? 

In California and all over the nation, sexual harassment is illegal. Under state and federal laws, an individual is a victim of harassment if they are subject to one of the following situations:

  • They have to tolerate unwelcome sexual advances or unwelcome, sex-based behavior to keep or receive benefits from work; or 
  • They are exposed to unwelcome and offensive, sex-based conduct that is so severe or pervasive that a reasonable person would consider the victim’s workplace to be hostile. 

These legal definitions of sexual harassment encompass countless variations of workplace misconduct. Just because the mistreatment you have endured doesn’t resemble the harassment of someone else, it does not mean you are not a victim of unlawful workplace behavior. If you have doubts about the unlawfulness of your workplace experiences, look at the following examples and speak to an experienced attorney as soon as possible.  

Common Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

When someone says “sexual harassment,” many think of an employee getting fired after refusing to date their boss. An employer punishing you for rejecting a romantic/sexual advance from a supervisor is indeed unlawful harassment, but it is not the only scenario prohibited by the law. The examples of sexual harassment cases in the workplace are practically endless. Harassment can be physical, verbal, or non-verbal, and it can crop up in a multitude of ways at your job. 

Examples of Verbal Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Whether you are a target or a bystander within earshot, someone’s words regarding sex or gender can be sufficiently offensive to rise to the level of unlawful harassment. You could be the victim of harassment if someone engages in the following verbal conduct: 

  • Makes comments about your body or appearance,
  • Asks for sexual favors,
  • Tells offensive jokes regarding sex or gender; 
  • Makes insulting generalizations about someone’s sex or gender, 
  • Asks you on a date more than once,
  • Describes sexual activities, or
  • Talks about their genitals. 

In many cases, you have to prove that a harasser committed multiple acts of offensive conduct before you can seek legal redress. However, a single statement in the workplace can be actionable if it was extreme, involved your supervisor making a sexual request, or led to disciplinary action against you. 

Examples of Physical Sexual Harassment

Even if it isn’t fueled by sexual desire, someone else’s invasion of your personal space can be sexual harassment. This unlawful invasion can include:

  • Unwelcome sexual touching,
  • A pattern of unwelcome “casual” touching, and
  • Unwelcome blocking of your pathways. 

If the physical behavior of someone in your workplace disrupts your work because it threatens you or makes you uncomfortable, it has likely crossed the line into illegal harassment. 

Examples of Non-Verbal Sexual Harassment

Individuals do not have to speak to or touch you to harass you. There are many ways an individual can non-verbally harass you, such as:

  • Displaying sexually graphic images in the office,
  • Singling out co-workers of a specific sex by sabotaging their workspaces,
  • Making crude gestures that simulate sex or sex-specific anatomy,
  • Isolating co-workers of a specific sex by excluding them from activities, and
  • Exposing genitals to others at work (in open or private areas).

By making gestures in your vicinity or making a spectacle in your workplace, a harasser can make the work environment hostile for everyone. 

Filing a Sexual Harassment Case

You will likely know harassment as soon as you see, hear, or feel it. Your first step to combating this behavior is to tell the person that it makes you uncomfortable and you want it to stop. This initial step is crucial because you must prove in a lawsuit or complaint that the conduct is unwelcome. If it is too difficult to confront your harasser, speak to a supervisor or human resources about your discomfort. 

If the person refuses to cease their conduct after you attempt to correct them, use your employer’s internal grievance procedures to file a formal complaint. In some cases, your employer can have a complete defense if they can prove that you did not file a grievance at work. 

An employee who does not achieve resolution through confronting their harasser or filing an internal complaint can take legal action to rectify the situation. You can file a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the California Civil Rights Division (CRD). If you want to file a lawsuit against your employer or harasser, you must first receive a notice from the EEOC or the CRD that states you have a right to sue in civil court. 

You have as few as 180 days to file an EEOC complaint, and you have three years to file a CRD complaint. A skilled attorney can timely file your complaints to protect your rights. Your attorney can also present your case in the best light to help you receive the greatest amount of financial damages and non-financial remedies available in your case. 

Talk to Our Law Office Today

At the Law Office of John Dalton, our California legal team is dedicated to helping employees take their power back from employers that mistreat them. Our practice focuses exclusively on employment disputes, and we have recovered tens of millions of dollars for our clients. If you have suffered in a hostile workplace, we are here to defend you, fight for you, and empower you. Please call us at 858-720-8422 or contact us online if you need help. 

    “I highly respect John and his dedication and integrity. You will not be disappointed.” John Dalton went to work for me and delivered great results. I wasn’t sure what to do and when I found John, he explained everything nicely and he was able to get me the settlement I truly deserved. He was easy to work with and I always felt like I was kept in the loop - it was really fantastic service all around. - Steve K.
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