July 21, 2014

Employment News Employment Retaliation Hostile Work Environment Sexual harassment

Is Flirting Sexual Harassment?

Victims of sexual harassment usually don’t need to be told when the line was crossed. Flirting is not unusual in the workplace but can become harassing behavior when it develops into behavior that is unwelcome, has a negative impact on an employee’s performance or creates a hostile work environment.  When workplace banter shifts to sexual harassment, victims may feel bullied, abused and pressured by fellow employees or a supervisor.

How do you know when inappropriate behavior is illegal and how should you address the problem? Under Minnesota and federal law, employees are protected against sexual harassment. This includes unwelcome advances, requests for sexual favors, sexually motivated contact, verbal or physical contact, or communication that is sexual in nature. If you feel that a co-worker or manager is treating you inappropriately, remember that sexual harassment is illegal and you have rights. Workplace conduct that may require you to take action includes:

  • You receive suggestive emails or texts from a manager. Even if you have responded in the past, you feel uncomfortable or pressured because the messages are unwelcome and coming from a superior.
  • In the office, you routinely feel that you are the subject of sexually-based jokes or attention. You feel that the attention has been or has become unwanted and negatively impacts your work environment.
  • You have had a romantic relationship with a co-worker or manager and then cut it off. Now you find yourself being threatened or have suffered a negative employment consequence as a result of ending the relationship.
  • An authority figure has come to you and asked you on a date, requested sexual favors, or has implied that your position could be impacted positively or negatively by your decision.
  • A co-worker or manager has aggressively pursued you and you have had to fend off physical advances, including kissing, hugging, shoulder rubbing, hair stroking or any other unwanted touching.
  • You are the target of unwanted stares, sexual gestures, or facial expressions. You have received photographs or drawings of a sexual nature. Your office culture includes posters, screensavers or emails of a sexual nature.

The above examples can constitute illegal sexual harassment. Deciding whether to take legal action can be tough. You may wonder how to protect yourself from retaliation if you make a complaint. Or how reporting the behavior will it impact your career. While taking appropriate action can be stressful, it also means putting an end to being treated in an illegal and disrespectful manner, and will hopefully help to prevent future harassment in the workplace. 

Our legal team has extensive experience handling sexual harassment claims and will pursue your case with sensitivity and dedication. Contact the sexual harassment lawyers at Wanta Thome PLC to review your case by calling 612-252-3570.