Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and/or other verbal, non-verbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.

Types of Sexual Harassment

  • Physical
    • Grabbing, pinching, brushing up or rubbing against, crowding, following
  • Verbal
    • Whistles, catcalls, sexual comments, sexual rumors
  • Non-verbal
    • Facial gestures, hand gestures, writing on walls

Sexual Harassment is Illegal When:

  • Submission to such conduct is made either explicitly or implicitly a term or condition of an individual’s employment
  • Submission to or rejection of such conduct by an individual is used as the basis for employment decisions affecting such individual
  • Such conduct has the purpose or effect of unreasonably interfering with an individual’s work performance or creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive work environment

Differences Between Sexual Harassment and Flirting


  • Enjoyed by both parties
  • Complimentary
    • Receiver feels good and wants to continue the interaction
  • If either party begins to feel uncomfortable, it may cross the line to sexual harassment

Sexual Harassment

  • One person controls the interaction
  • Receiver feels scared, confused, an “object”
  • Degrading, not mutual or reciprocal
  • No desire to continue the interaction

What to Do if Sexual Harassment Happens to You

Step 1:

If you feel safe doing so, communicate to your harasser what you are feeling and that you expect the behavior to stop. You may do this verbally or in writing. If you choose, you may get help and support from a friend, parent, professional, or other trusted adult.

Step 2:

If the behavior is repeated, go to a person in authority, such as a principal, counselor, complaint manager, or supervisor. Document exactly what happened. give a copy of your written record to the authority, and keep one for yourself. Whenever possible and appropriate, use exact quotes.

Your documentation should include the following information:

  • What happened
  • When it happened
  • Where it happened
  • Who did the harassing
  • Who the witnesses were (if any)
  • What you said and/or did in response to the harassment
  • How your harasser responded to you
  • How you felt about the harassment

Step 3:

If the behavior is repeated again, go to a person in higher authority, such as a school board member, the superintendent of schools, the president of the college, the company president, etc. Keep documenting the behavior.

At any point in the process, you may choose to contact the Office of Civil Rights, your State Department of Education, your State Department of Human Rights, an attorney, or a police officer.

Resource Agencies

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission enforces federal laws related to employment discrimination, harassment, and other workplace issues.

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