Non-Sexual vs. Sexual Harassment In The Workplace: What’s The Difference?

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Denis ZilberbergJune 1, 2018Sexual Harassment

The Harvey Weinstein scandal has forever reshaped California’s sexual harassment laws and continues to ripple through the nation. But many tend to forget that there is also a non-sexual form of harassment, and it is no less damaging or traumatizing than sexual harassment.

But what is the difference between sexual and non-sexual harassment in the workplace? If sexual harassment refers to physical, verbal, and visual forms of discrimination and harassment based on age, gender, or sexual orientation, what does it really mean to be harassed in a non-sexual way?

These are the questions we asked our Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney from The Kaufman Law Firm to help employees all across California be able to spot both sexual and non-sexual forms of harassment in the workplace and take legal action against it.

Sexual and non-sexual harassment: the difference

There can be many types of harassment at work, including but not limited to behavior, conduct, words, comments or actions regarding race, age, gender, skin color, ethnicity, national origin, or any other protected characteristic. Generally, these actions or words are considered unlawful when they create a hostile work environment or create an uncomfortable atmosphere for the affected employee.

Examples of sexual harassment at work

These are some of the most common types of sexual harassment in the workplace that must never go unnoticed or ignored. Do not hesitate to seek legal advice from the best sexual harassment attorneys in California if you spot any of the following types of sexual misconduct at work:

  • Making unsolicited sexual advances (asking for a phone number, asking out on a date, leaning in for a kiss, etc.)
  • Sharing sexually suggestive images or videos (displaying porn videos, sharing sexually inappropriate gifs, displaying inappropriate sexual images or posters in the workplace, etc.)
  • Sending sexual letters or emails (writing vulgar descriptions about an employee’s body, sharing suggestive stories, leaving inappropriate notes, etc.)
  • Telling offensive, sexist, lewd, or disparaging jokes or slurs (directed toward an employee or anyone else, etc.)
  • Making inappropriate sexual gestures (leering and staring suggestively, whistling or looking at an employee up and down in a sexual way, whistling, etc.)
  • Making offensive or suggestive comments about a co-worker’s body parts, clothing, appearance, etc.
  • Inappropriately touching, including but not limited to patting, pinching, or slapping intimate body parts, rubbing or brushing up against co-workers
  • Asking suggestive questions or inquiring about a co-worker’s sexual preferences, experiences or sexual orientation, etc.
  • Offering to perform sexual acts in exchange for employment benefits
  • Threatening to take an adverse employment action for refusing to have sex, etc.

This is only a shortlist of examples of sexual harassment in the workplace, says our Los Angeles sexual harassment lawyer from The Kaufman Law Firm. Let’s move on to non-sexual harassment at work.

Examples of non-sexual harassment at work

Anything that is negative, offensive, or bullying is considered non-sexual harassment under California laws. Although many think that non-sexual harassment is less serious than sexual harassment, it is not always the case, as non-sexual harassment can do just as much damage as its sexual form. These are some of the most common examples of non-sexual harassment:

  • Making offensive or negative comments about a co-worker or employee
  • Wearing offensive clothing in the workplace
  • Using racist slang slurs or slang phrases to discriminate against employees on the basis of race
  • Making offensive remarks about a co-worker’s personal religious beliefs
  • Displaying drawings, posters, cartoons, or images in the workplace that are offensive and discriminatory toward other people on the basis of race, age, gender, skin color, ethnicity, national origin, or any other protected characteristic
  • Making offensive gestures
  • Making negative comments about a co-worker’s mental or physical disability
  • Making insulting comments about age

If you have become a victim of a sexual or non-sexual form of harassment at work, do not hesitate to take action and address any form of harassment by reporting it to human resources (HR) and consulting with a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney. If your claim is ignored, your only option will be to file a claim with the EEOC.

Speak to our lawyers at The Kaufman Law Firm to get a consultation today. Call our offices at 310-981-3404 or send us an email.



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