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Am I overreacting to sexual gestures in the office?

There are situations in life that can be uncomfortable and awkward. This could mean meeting an ex in the supermarket and feeling awkward when he or she asks you on another date, or it could mean telling a friend that you want to stop hanging out with him or her.

Many are quick to put office flirtations and minor sexual advances from coworkers or managers in this "awkward" category. But it is actually a much more serious phenomenon, that if not reported, could have a negative affect on your life, both professionally and personally.

What is sexual harassment?

Another common mistake that people make is that they assume that sexual harassment is limited to acts of rape and assault, but this is simply not true. Verbal communication can be just as damaging to a person as physical actions; therefore inappropriate remarks, offers or requests can absolutely constitute sexual harassment if it has created a hostile environment for you in the workplace.

What does the term "hostile environment" mean?

Sexual harassment cases are usually judged on whether a person's actions created a hostile environment in the workplace. However, many people find the term confusing and do not understand what it means. Creating a hostile environment loosely means that this person has made it so that coming to work for you might feel difficult, and you may be distracted by your work because you are worried about what he or she might do to make you feel uncomfortable in the workplace.

If you are feeling uneasy at work because of another person's repeated actions, you not overreacting, and it is likely that such behavior will be judged legally as sexual harassment.

Source: Top Resume, "How to deal with sexual advances in the workplace," accessed Jan. 26, 2018

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