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The difference between office flirting and sexual harassment

Work in fast-paced office environments can often mean that you have close relationships with your colleagues. It may mean that as well as working together intensely, you also enjoy humor, some level of friendship and socializing together. In some situations, colleagues may flirt or act in a way that may make you uncertain of whether they have other intentions.

Some behavior of colleagues or even a boss may make you uncomfortable, but how do you know whether it crosses the line onto sexual harassment? This blog will provide a brief overview on what to do if you think a situation is in danger of getting out of hand.

Make your behavior clear

If a boss or a colleague is acting flirtatiously, either in person or through emails, it is important to make it clear that you do not want to communicate with him or her in this way. This is especially important in writing, because if you need to file for legal action further down the line, the history of your emails can serve as evidence.

Keep it civil

Usually, flirting or communication that is unwanted can be solved through every day conversation and emotional intelligence. Unless the person is making physical advances, creating a hostile environment or making you stressed or uncomfortable, there shouldn't be a cause for concern.

When it crosses the line

If the person continues to act in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable after you have explicitly told him or her not to or uses his or her power to his or her advantage, and if this happens repeatedly, it could be classed as creating a hostile environment under the law. This could entitle you to making a sexual harassment legal claim.

Source: Business insider, "What to do when you realize your boss secretly has a crush on you," Jacquelyn Smith, accessed Aug. 10, 2017

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