Can sexual harassment be non-physical?

Colorado workers like you deserve an environment free of harassment, discrimination and fear. Unfortunately, not all workplaces provide this environment or maintain their policies against harassment.

To protect yourself at work, it helps to understand what the law considers sexual harassment. This way, you can act swiftly if you get harassed, especially if it is non-physical harassment.

Verbal sexual harassment

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission lists behaviors and actions that are acts of sexual harassment. They point out that sexual harassment is an umbrella term that covers much more than physical assault.

For example, many cases of harassment at work involve verbal harassment. A coworker may proposition you. An employer may try to hold a promotion over your head in exchange for sexual favors. Some may even threaten you with the risk of demotion or even getting fired if you do not acquiesce to their request.

Derogatory comments about gender

Sexual harassment can also include any derogatory remarks made about you that revolve around your sex. For example, it is unlawful to harass women by making harmful remarks about women in general. Even derogatory jokes about “making sandwiches” or “staying in the kitchen” count as harassment.

When is harassment illegal? When it is severe or frequent enough to create an offensive or hostile work environment. It is also illegal if it leads to adverse employment decisions, i.e. you get demoted or fired due to the harassment that has taken place. If you have suffered through harassment or the negative aftermath thereof, you may wish to see what your legal options are.

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