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The difference between sexual and nonsexual harassment

When feeling intimidated, embarrassed or pressured by someone at work, it can feel terrible. But while trying to figure out the best way to deal with the situation, you may also wonder if you are making a big deal out of the situation. When feeling embarrassed about an event, it is likely that you would prefer not to raise any more awareness of the situation to others.

You might also be wondering whether what happened could be considered sexual harassment or nonsexual harassment. The two terms are often difficult to distinguish between. Harassment in general in the workplace is defined as any type of behavior that creates a hostile working environment.

Therefore, nonsexual harassment could include a person making derogatory comments about your religion, political beliefs, age or ethnicity. Anything that creates hostility and discomfort in the workplace can be grounds for nonsexual harassment.

What can be somewhat confusing is the fact that sexual harassment does not need to be overtly sexual to be considered as such. Many people might think that sexual harassment is only considered as a person making a pass at another in the workplace. Although this can be counted, it is also true that more subtle situations can also count as sexual harassment. This could be the telling of inappropriate jokes, inappropriate brushing against another or the sending of inappropriate material to another, making them feel uncomfortable.

It's important to remember that if you are feeling uncomfortable at work because of another's behavior, it is likely that it constitutes harassment. It is advisable to speak to a legal advisor that can help you move forward.

Source: The balance, "Sexual harassment at work," accessed Oct. 06, 2017

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