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What are the different types of workplace sexual harassment?

Most Missouri workers probably think that they understand the definition of sexual harassment on the job. But not all sexual harassment is blatant. There are more subtle forms of sexual harassment that are just as damaging and still as illegal.

Simply telling a coworker or subordinate that they look nice occasionally does not rise to the level of sexual harassment and is likely just a friendly remark. However, if someone consistently critiques your appearance or makes suggestive remarks to you, this could fall into the category of verbal sexual harassment. Other no-no's would be someone who asks about someone's sexual practices or orientation or who insists on discussing inappropriate sexual matters on the job.

No one should have to put up with unwanted physical contact in order to do one's job. Giving unwanted shoulder massages, stroking, hugging, kissing or touching any area of an employee's body is physical sexual harassment. So is placing one's body deliberately in the way of another person in order for them to have to brush against them in passing.

Sexual harassment can also be nonverbal, and includes leering, looking up and down someone's body, catcalling and wolf-whistling, sucking one's fingers lewdly or licking the lips.

Psychological sexual harassment on the job can be emotionally devastating for the victims, as it attacks their personal dignity and/or physical integrity. This form of harassment focuses on humiliating an employee with comments, conduct, actions and gestures that devalue them and are hostile and unwanted. A person can be psychologically harassed in conjunction with other forms of sexual harassment.

Visual sexual harassment can include a workplace where nude calendars or photos are openly displayed, passing around sexually explicit drawings or viewing pornography openly in the workplace where others are exposed to it unwillingly.

If you feel that you have experienced sexual harassment in the workplace, it's a good idea to seek the counsel of a Missouri employment law attorney to review your options.

Source:, "Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Work Environment" accessed Jan. 27, 2015

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