Sexual Harassment in Employment

Unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature. Both victim and the harasser can be either a woman or a man, and the victim and harasser can be the same sex. Although the law doesn’t prohibit simple teasing, offhand comments, or isolated incidents that are not very serious, harassment is illegal when it is so frequent or severe that it creates a hostile or offensive work environment or when it results in an adverse employment decision (such as the victim being fired or demoted). The harasser can be the victim's supervisor, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or someone who is not an employee of the employer, such as a client or customer.

  • Sharing sexually inappropriate images or videos, such as pornography, with co-workers
  • Sending suggestive letters, notes, or e-mails
  • Displaying inappropriate sexual images or posters in the workplace
  • Telling lewd jokes, or sharing sexual anecdotes
  • Making inappropriate sexual gestures
  • Staring in a sexually suggestive or offensive manner, or whistling
  • Making sexual comments about appearance, clothing, or body parts
  • Inappropriate touching, including pinching, patting, rubbing, or purposefully brushing up against another person
  • Asking sexual questions, such as questions about someone's sexual history or their sexual orientation
What to do if you feel you are being sexually harassed at work:
  1. Be Prepared! Know your rights and responsibilities as an employee or manager.
  2. Tell the harasser to stop. If you don’t feel comfortable confronting the harasser or the conduct does not stop, tell your employer.
  3. Report the harassment to your employer. If your company has a policy on harassment, it should identify who is responsible for handling complaints of harassment. If you are not comfortable talking to that person or your company does not have a harassment policy, talk to your manager or another manager in the company.
  4. Keep records including witness names, telephone numbers and addresses. Document how you were treated as an employee.
  5. Act promptly. Once your employer knows about the harassment, it has a responsibility to stop the harassment. Also, you may not be the only person being harassed by this individual.
  6. Contact the Fort Wayne Metropolitan Human Relations Commission or the EEOC. The services are free and you do not need a lawyer to file a charge.