Not everyone has a firm grasp of what does and does not constitute sexual harassment. Some people mistakenly think major incidents, like the boss forcing themselves on you, are harassment, when in fact, they probably qualify as sexual assault, which is a criminal offense.
Others put up with a lot of behaviors they think are not significant enough to qualify as harassment.
Sexual harassment can cover a lot of things
There are two ways to claim sexual harassment. Firstly, you can claim “quid pro quo,” or a situation where you’re offered something in exchange for your sexual favors. For example, if your manager offers to give you better shifts in return for going out with them or engaging in some kind of sexual behavior, you have a valid case for sexual harassment. Even if you said no and nothing more happened and they never broached the subject again or ever laid a finger on you.
The other way is to claim a hostile work environment. This is how you can bring a claim when a lot of incidents happen, even if some or all of them would appear relatively minor to many people. It’s about the repetition of the behavior that, when continued over time, makes going to work unpleasant for you.
Examples can include physical actions, such as massaging your shoulder or brushing up against you. They can include jokes based on your gender or sexually charged comments about your body or how you dress. Alternatively, it could result from things done online, pictures sent to your computer or left on your desk and much more.
Everyone should be free to work without any form of sexual harassment. If you are not, then consider legal help to do something about it.