No one likes to be teased. Many of our readers who have children have likely seen “anti-bullying” commercials when their kids are watching cartoons. In some workplaces, it seems like they should have the same message. And, in some cases, the teasing goes too far, especially when it comes to the type of teasing that is sexual in nature. So, how do our readers know whether or not they have been the subject of sexual harassment, or simple teasing?
The difference is important, but sometimes hard to distinguish. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, certain types of behavior – although they may be offensive – don’t rise to the level of sexual harassment. “Isolated incidents” and “offhand comments,” as the EEOC describes them, don’t necessarily constitute sexual harassment.
However, repeated lewd comments, unwanted sexual advances and sexually explicit materials in the workplace can create a hostile work environment and, in those instances, constitute sexual harassment. Employers and co-workers cannot engage in behavior in which they request sexual favors or verbally abuse an employee in a sexual nature.
While it is important for our readers to know the difference between teasing and sexual harassment, it isn’t always easy to tell the difference between the two. Any employee in Minnesota who isn’t sure about behavior in their workplace that is making them uncomfortable may want to get more information about whether or not they have a valid sexual harassment claim. Employers who engage in or condone this type of behavior should be held accountable. Seeking the assistance of an experienced attorney can help those in such situations proceed with a solid plan of legal action.