Sexual Harassment

Have any of these things ever happened to you at work?

  • Someone said something sexual about how you look.
  • Someone touched you sexually when you didn't want them to.
  • Someone made sexual jokes or said sexual things that you didn't like.
  • Someone showed you or put up pornographic pictures.

You are not alone. Each year, many women experience sexual harassment at work. It's not just upsetting--it's illegal.

Laws Protect You

Sexual harassment violates the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The law states that:

1. Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual attention at work. It includes touching you, saying sexual things to you, asking for sex, or making advances toward you.

2. Sexual harassment is illegal if:

  • You have to go along with it to get or keep a job; or
  • You have to go along with it to get a raise or a vacation, or to influence other decisions about your job; or
  • The harassment is making it hard for you to work.

What if ...

"What if nobody else saw it happen?" The law still protects you.

"What if I didn't lose my job?" The law still protects you.

"What if the harasser is not my boss, but rather a coworker or client?" The law still protects you.

"What if I sometimes played along and submitted to sexual behavior but clearly didn't want to?" The law still protects you.

"What if it happened only once, but was serious--like unwanted touching of my private body parts?" The law still protects you.

What Can You Do If You Are Sexually Harassed?

Say "NO" clearly. Tell your harasser to stop. Tell your harasser that you do not want the sexual attention. If it happens again, send a letter telling your harasser to stop, and keep a copy for yourself.

Reprinted with permission from "Sexual Harassment"; US Department of Labor Women's Bureau "Know Your Rights" brochure series.

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