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Sexual harassment: What to look for

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in Discrimination and Harassment,Human Resources

Sexual harassment costs U.S. workplaces millions of dollars annually in legal liability and lost productivity. Beyond the dollars, companies struggle with bad PR, and the victims and perpetrators face their own damaging consequences.

As the eyes and ears of the organization, supervisors are responsible to identify harassment and put a stop to it.

Here are typical actions that can spark a sexual harassment lawsuit:

  • Repeated sexual innuendo, obscene or off-color jokes, slurs, lewd remarks and other sexual comments.
  • Sexually offensive content in email, texts, notes and graffiti.
  • Sexual propositions, insults, threats, leering, whistling or other suggestive action. Long glances and stares can be considered sexual harassment even without words or touching.
  • Persistent or unwanted sexual or romantic overtures.
  • Displaying pornographic pictures or other sexual material at work.
  • Coerced or unwelcome touching, kissing or other such actions.
  • Pressure for sexual favors. Exam­­ples: A manager promises a subordinate a promotion in exchange for sexual encounter; or a manager threatens to take away a perk if the subordinate doesn’t comply with a sexual favor request.

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