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Are some workers more likely to experience sexual harassment than others?


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Sexual harassment came come in many forms, whether it’s verbal threats or physical touching. Anyone can face sexual harassment regardless of their sexual orientation or gender. Supervisors aren’t the only ones who might subject you to sexual harassment. Colleagues, vendors, or customers can as well.

A 2018 Institute for Women’s Policy Research study chronicles how some sexual harassment perpetrators prey upon workers in specific roles more than others. 

What constitutes sexual harassment?

Any non-consensual sex act may fall under the umbrella of sexual harassment, including:

  • Ones that create an offensive or hostile work environment
  • Requests for sexual favors
  • Anything that intimates or unnecessarily affects a person’s work performance
  • Physical touching or verbal interaction with sexual undertones
  • One that may implicitly or explicitly affect career stability or advancement
  • Unwelcome sexual advances

A person’s perceptions of what constitutes sexual harassment may vary depending on their religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability or race. Know that sexual harassment isn’t only illegal, but so too is targeting someone based on their belonging to one of the above-referenced protected classes. 

Which employees are most likely to experience sexual harassment?

Research shows that some workers are more apt to face sexual harassment than others, including:

  • Undocumented workers
  • Those who work for tips
  • Ones that work in male-dominated fields
  • Those who largely work in isolation (such as housekeepers and agricultural workers)

The impact that sexual harassment has on a victim can vary. Most notably, a victim’s experience can significantly impact their mental health, discouraging them from seeking career advancement opportunities. 

Your rights if you’ve suffered sexual harassment in the workplace

Know that employers have an obligation to keep an employee’s work environment from becoming a hostile one. You may be able to pursue legal remedies if you can prove that the sexual harassment that you endured is attributable to your employers allowing a toxic workplace to exist.

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