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3 signs you are being sexually harassed at work

Surprise and uncertainty are normal reactions the first time someone you work with makes a suggestive comment or asks you out, particularly if the advances are unwanted. You may wonder if you misunderstood the person's intentions or are being overly sensitive.

However, workplace sexual harassment can and does happen and is far more common than many people realize. There are many myths surrounding sexual harassment - such as that only females can be victims - and it's important to know what may and may not be an issue.

1. Someone at work is making advances toward you.

If someone at your place of employment is making unwanted advances of a sexual nature, it may qualify as sexual harassment. However, unless there is a specific threat to your job, a one-time rebuff is not likely to qualify - as long as the person respects your noninterest and doesn't behave inappropriately again. However, if the person continues or escalates the behavior - surprisingly common - there may be an issue. It's important to note that the advances do not have to come from a superior to count as workplace sexual harassment. Harassment from a coworker or third party associated with your job also counts.

2. You have been penalized, or are afraid you will be, for refusing advances.

If you have been told that you must accept the advances - such as agreeing to a kiss or a date - to keep your job or get a promotion, it's likely sexual harassment. An important point here is that the action does not have to be physical. Even asking you to engage in a sexually explicit or suggestive conversation can possibly qualify, even if there is never any physical contact.

3. You feel uncomfortable.

Workplace sexual harassment is not always blatant. If often takes more subtle forms. If a coworker or employer is making inappropriate comments about your appearance or behavior or touching you in seemingly benign ways - such as squeezing your shoulder or touching your arm when talking - even after you have made it clear that the actions are unwanted, it may be sexual harassment.

If you feel uncomfortable or are even questioning whether you might be experiencing sexual harassment at your workplace, contact an attorney.

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