Sexual harassment is illegal. That is why people who engage in sexual harassment can face harsh consequences. Today, more and more people understand what sexual harassment is and the harm it can cause. However, some people still get confused about which behaviors are inappropriate and which are not. For example, you might be wondering whether being asked on a date by a coworker is sexual harassment. So, is it?
Is it Sexual Harassment if a Colleague Asks You on a Date?
If a colleague asked you out once in a polite manner and without being pushy or vulgar, you refused, and that was the end of it, then that is not generally sexual harassment. But, if the coworker keeps asking you out on a date after you turned them down and making other uninvited advances toward you, that may constitute sexual harassment.
When it comes to determining if certain behavior constitutes sexual harassment, the deciding factor is whether the behavior is welcome or unwelcome. If a colleague asks you on a date and you say ‘no,’ it means that any advances they make afterward are unwelcome.
What to Do if You are Sexually Harassed by a Coworker
The following are the steps to take if your coworker is sexually harassing you;
Make it Clear the Conduct is Unwelcome
If a coworker persistently asks you on a date even after you made it clear that you do not want to go on a date with them, let them know that you are uncomfortable. However, only do so if you feel safe and comfortable. If you do not feel safe confronting your colleague or if they continue their behavior even after you have confronted them, then further steps are necessary.
Maintain a Record of Your Coworker’s Behavior
It is crucial that you keep a record of the harassing conduct. If, for instance, your colleague is sending you texts, voicemails, or emails, do not delete the messages. There may come a time when it is your word against theirs.
Report Your Coworker
If you are experiencing harassment by a coworker, report them as per your company’s procedure for reporting sexual harassment. However, whether you make the report to the human resources department or a manager, it is best that your report is in writing.
Maintain a Record of the Communication Between You and Your Employer
After you report your coworker to HR or a manager, keep records of everything you send or receive. There may come a time when your employer claims that you did not report your coworker’s behavior. If such a time comes, you can use your records to prove that you made the report.
Reach Out to a Lawyer
Finally, contact a qualified lawyer. This is especially important if you report the incident to your employer and they do nothing about it. You have options, and a lawyer can help you understand these options. A qualified lawyer can advise you on the next steps, including filing a claim against your employer and colleague.
Again, a polite request from a coworker may not be considered sexual harassment, but continuing to ask for a date after being turned down will likely be considered sexual harassment.
Contact Our Office Today for Legal Help
If a colleague is sexually harassing you, contact the Trabosh Law Firm today to discuss your legal options.