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Is a sexy calendar sexual harassment in the workplace?

On Behalf of | Aug 5, 2021 | Sexual Harassment |

Most workplaces have at least one person who thinks it’s a good idea to put up a pin-up calendar or to have “sexy” screensavers. At home or in a private office, that might not be a big deal. If you are dealing with this kind of imagery in an open office environment, remember that you may be able to report it.

Sexy imagery, regardless of whether it’s nude or not, can make someone feel uncomfortable and should be removed upon request. If the imagery is left where it is, then they could claim that the workplace is hostile or uncomfortable for them while making a complaint to the human resources department, a supervisor or others.

How could a calendar or screensaver be sexual harassment?

Imagine being female and walking into your boss’s office. There, you see that they have a screensaver with nearly nude women across the screen. That might make you uncomfortable because it’s not appropriate for the workplace. Even an inappropriate calendar taking up space on a part of the wall could be enough to constitute harassment if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

Here’s an example. If you are working as a new receptionist for your boss and see a series of degrading images on their desk calendar, you might mention that it makes you uncomfortable. If your boss ignores your complaint and decides to leave it there, then that may constitute harassment. Deliberately making someone feel uneasy by having offensive imagery in the office is not legal.

Similarly, sharing images that are offensive with another worker, even as a joke, could turn into a sexual harassment complaint. For instance, sending a photograph of a woman’s chest to a male colleague may end up resulting in a sexual harassment claim.

Avoid offensive imagery in the office

No matter who’s working, it’s best to avoid offensive imagery in the office. If you make a complaint about offensive imagery, give the person time to take it down or remove it. If they refuse, then you may have the basis for a sexual harassment claim based on them being unreasonable and degrading toward you and others.