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What is non-physical sexual harassment?

On Behalf of | May 14, 2021 | employment law |

The workplace is one location where you spend the majority of your time during the week. It makes sense to wish for a feeling of safety and security here. While strides forward happen every day to provide that, you still get situations where sexual harassment can occur.

Another big issue that gets less media and press attention still relates to this problem. However, it involves non-physical sexual harassment, rather than physical assault.

Non-physical does not mean no harm

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission discusses non-physical sexual harassment. It differs from assault and physical sexual harassment in one primary way: that the perpetrator does not lay hands on the victim.

This does not mean they are harmless or do no damage, though. In fact, non-physical sexual harassment can cause mental strain and stress and may even lead to depression or loss of employment. But what is it?

Harassment from many possible sources

Many forms of this harassment come from threats or coercion. For example, a manager may threaten to fire someone if they do not perform a sexual act. Likewise, they may offer bonuses or promotions that hinge entirely on the performance of sexual acts. The act itself does not need to take place for this to count as harassment.

Coworkers and peers can also perpetuate this issue. Often, this comes in the form of spreading workplace rumors about someone’s sex life or sexuality. When this disrupts a victim’s ability to work or feel safe, it is harassment.

Finally, non-physical sexual harassment can also include comments on gender rather than sex. Derogatory sexist remarks about a worker can count as harassing behavior and the perpetrators can face the same consequences.