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Sexual Harassment Is Never ‘Friendly’

Allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior in Hollywood have cropped up before, and many times, the celebrity at the center of the scandal is able to brush it off or disappear into quiet disgrace. This time, however, the scandal broke with fury, opening the floodgates to dozens of women who spoke up to allege that film executive Harvey Weinstein had sexually harassed, intimidated and or assaulted them.

If you have suffered any such hostility at your workplace, you undoubtedly understand the courage it takes to come forward.

‘It was flattery’ is not an excuse.

It may be perfectly clear to you that a co-worker’s inappropriate comments, gestures or touching constitutes sexual harassment, but the harasser is likely to claim otherwise. In fact, victims of sexual harassment endure questions such as, “Was your co-worker really harassing you — or instead simply flattering you or being friendly?” Advocates for equity in the workplace understand the difference between a compliment and sexual harassment. For example, these kinds of behaviors may be part of a pattern that constitutes harassment in the workplace:

  • Supposed “compliments” from a male co-worker who would never make the same kind of comment to another male co-worker
  • When a worker’s comments or behaviors objectify another worker’s body 
  • Repeatedly defending actions by saying they’re only jokes
  • If the behavior continues even after you’ve asked the person to stop
  • If you suffer in other ways, such as demotion, denial of benefits, or termination — all of which are forms of retaliation that employees experience after denying sexual advances or reporting the behavior

You have every right to a safe and respectful workplace, free of harassment and retaliation. No one should have to endure a hostile work environment, and if you are dealing with this type of situation, you are likely trying to decide the most appropriate way to handle it. You can be grateful to those who have shouted, ‘Me too,’ for bringing the conversation into the light, and you can seek the assistance of an Arizona legal advocate who will help you determine the best course of action.