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Can you be sexually harassed by a colleague of the same sex?

| Jul 21, 2021 | Sexual Harassment |

There’s a lot of confusion in the workforce about what constitutes sexual harassment. Knowing more about your rights can help you protect your future.

One myth that is important to dispel is the idea that your harasser has to be of the opposite sex. That is not the case. Same-sex harassment is unlawful too.

Which acts may constitute same-sex sexual harassment?

While there is some degree of overlap, the inappropriate treatment that male employees may receive from their same-sex colleagues generally fits into one of the following categories:

  • Sexually charged humiliation or belittling based on notions of proper masculinity 
  • Subjection to sexual-oriented conversations or acts, including teasing
  • Any roughhousing accompanied by sexual innuendos

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) reports that female employees often report the following kinds of same-sex harassment:

  • Employers advising women that more provocative clothing choices could help with their job growth and sales
  • Inappropriate questioning about their bodies and sexual proclivities.
  • Unwarranted touching or sexual suggestions

Some types of treatment may fall both into the category of sexual harassment and discrimination. 

Is it common for employees to file same-sex harassment claims?

EEOC data once showed that employers were often slow to investigate and punish upper-level managers guilty of same-sex sexual harassment. The tides are slowly changing. Employees in all industries are slowly becoming more conscious of the fact that sexual harassment can take many different forms, and none of them are acceptable. 

If you’ve been subjected to sexual harassment by a supervisor, colleague or client of any gender, you may have a right to compensation — particularly if your employer failed to step in after being notified. Please continue to review our website to learn more.