The cliché about sexual harassment is that it involves cat calls or the boss coming into your office with an overt offer of promotion in exchange for sex. While this definitely happens, more often sexual harassment is insidious and hidden. It occurs in private, between two people, without witnesses. Wrongdoers choose to act in the shadows, knowing they are breaking the rules. With this in mind, here are four examples of sexual harassment that can happen without anyone saying a word.
#1 Posting Images Without Consent
In a particularly disgusting case involving United Airlines, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) investigated allegations that a pilot repeatedly posted provocative images of a flight attendant to various websites. This was done without her knowledge or consent, and at times the pilot would use the company’s tagline “fly the friendly skies” in order to make the images even more sexually charged. The EEOC found that this constituted a pervasively hostile work environment, and United knew about it but chose to do nothing.
#2 Graphic Images
Many workplaces lend themselves to personal workspaces, such as office jobs, print shops, and any job where employees are able to decorate their area or workstation. Over the years, there have been numerous cases of workers hanging pornographic materials, inappropriate or lewd images, or calendars with partially nude models. While this may or may not automatically constitute sexual harassment, given the proper context it certainly may be.
#3 Staring and Gawking
Strange as it might seem, it is inappropriate to gawk. In fact, it can be sexual harassment. In the wake of the #MeToo movement, Netflix (and other companies) has instituted specific rules to avoid any appearance of impropriety between coworkers. For instance, the Internet streaming company has instituted rules prohibiting employees from staring at each other for longer than five seconds. While strange and certainly not based on any strict reading of the law, the rule suggests that there is a problem when a coworker can’t stop staring. Indeed, if a boss, coworker, or anyone else in the workplace can’t seem to stop gawking at you, this could rise to the level of sexual harassment.
#4 Unwelcome Gifts
If you’ve ever watched the movie, Don’t Tell Mom the Babysitter’s Dead, you may remember the creepy and obviously inappropriate sexual harassment by Gus (played by John Getz) directed at young Sue Ellen (played by Christina Applegate). In the movie, this male senior-level professional continually directs sexual advances at Sue Ellen (who he does not realize is actually a minor). In one scene, he sends her roses with tickets to the symphony.
While the movie is full of examples of outright harassment, hostile work environment, and worse, even a gift given in this context can be harassment. When a superior or coworker shows inappropriate and romantic affection through gifts, it can at times rise to the level of harassment.
Hire a South Carolina Sexual Harassment Attorney
If you suspect you’ve been the victim of sexual harassment or if you are being subjected to a hostile work environment, you need aggressive legal representation immediately. The EEOC offers options for bringing a claim for sexual harassment, but you only have 180 days to file your claim. Call Lauren Taylor Law today to get real answers and help with your claim.
Lauren Taylor is a Family Law and Criminal Defense Attorney who practices in Greenville, SC. She graduated from the Charlotte School of Law, and has been practicing for several years now. Lauren Taylor relies on her experience and passion to fight for you during this stressful time. Learn more about her experience here.