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A Hostile Work Environment Can be Sexual or Gender Harassment

Emanuel Shirazi

A journalist recently asked me if making comments behind someone’s back can be sexual harassment? Most people think that sexual harassment needs to involve some kind of touching or at least a direct verbal proposition – but this isn’t necessarily the case. Sexual harassment includes things like:

  • sexually provocative materials/pornography
  • extremely vulgar language
  • degrading comments (sexual or derogatory)
  • embarrassing questions or jokes

If someone in the workplace is exhibiting unacceptable behavior and making it uncomfortable for a co-worker, that is harassment. So the answer to the journalist’s question is yes. If someone in the workplace is making sexually charged rumors, comments, and language in the workplace it can be sexual harassment (a hostile work involvement.) People are familiar with sexual harassment, but there is also gender harassment. Gender harassment is less about a sexually charged work environment, but more about degrading, embarrassing, derogatory, or vulgar conduct or language related to one’s gender. In today’s world, such conduct is unacceptable and there are well established laws to protect you and the environment you work in. If you or someone you know is being exposed to this kind of nonsense, call or contact me at (310) 400-5891 and I’d be happy to talk to you about it.

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