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When sexual harassment is verbal

Category: Hostile Work Environment, Sexual Harassment

In our last blog post, we discussed some of the common ways people can be sexually harassed online or through other digital mediums.

But long before emails and Facebook, verbal communication dominated work environments, and victims of harassment regularly cited certain types of verbal exchanges as being the cause of or contributing to hostile work environments. In this post, we will take a closer look at what may constitute verbal harassment on the job.

Verbal harassment can consist of any statement that is offensive or sexually inappropriate. Examples of this type of harassment include:

  • Making suggestive comments to employees
  • Asking for sexual favors
  • Repeatedly asking a person out, even after being told “no”
  • Commenting, either positively or negatively, on a worker’s physical appearance in an inappropriate manner
  • Telling derogatory or offensive jokes
  • Making threats to victims of harassment in an attempt to keep them from filing a complaint

It is important to note that a single instance of any of these examples typically will not merit a lawsuit. However, if the instances of verbal harassment are frequent or create an offensive work environment, legal action may be effective. Workers should also keep in mind that verbal harassment often comes hand-in-hand with other forms of sexual harassment, which can bolster a claim.

Of all the different types of sexual harassment, verbal statements can be the most difficult to prove. Often, these cases can involve a lot of he-said, she-said situations. However, even when a claim consists primarily of one person’s word against another’s, there are ways to solidify the claim.

In order to understand what your options are for holding an employer or other party accountable for verbal harassment on the job, victims should seriously consider speaking with an attorney who understands the unique challenges of these claims and help explain the options available.

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