Siegal & RichardsonLLP

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Sexual harassment can come from someone of the same gender

A surprising number of people don't really understand sexual harassment. While the idea of sexual harassment has been discussed much more in the news and media in recent years, there is still widespread confusion about the topic. People in different work positions or of different genders have differing views on allegations of sexual harassment.

Many myths about sexual harassment in the workplace are persistent and hard to resolve. One such myth is that sexual harassment always involves employees of opposite genders. A variation on that idea is the concept that sexual harassment in the same gender can only occur when one or both individuals is homosexual or bisexual.

The truth is that sexual orientation, gender and gender identity aren't intrinsic in sexual harassment cases. A heterosexual woman could sexually harass another heterosexual woman in the workplace. Understanding that can help you know when to speak up on your own behalf.

Sexual harassment focuses more on impact then on relationships

Whether you experience sexual harassment has to do with how someone's actions or words make you feel or impact your job. When someone creates a hostile work environment through sexual harassment, they make it difficult for you to perform your job or maintain a healthy and positive mental outlook because of the way they treat you.

Someone doesn't have to have a sexual interest in you to sexually harass you. Instead, there only needs to be a sexual or gender-based element to the jokes they make, the insults they use or the way they or other co-workers interact with you.

Sexual harassment from a person of the same gender could look like someone talking about your appearance and sex life with co-workers. It could also take the form of jokes at your expense or implications that you can't do your job because of your sex (or sexuality).

You can experience sexual harassment from just about anyone whom you work with. Regardless of your gender and the gender of the person harassing you, your employer should take allegations of sexual harassment seriously.

No one needs to put up with sexual harassment in the workplace

Despite progress, issues with sexual harassment in the workplace remain relatively prevalent. Regardless of where someone works, how they identify or the kinds of relationships they have, they shouldn't have to deal with harassment, abuse, discrimination or a hostile work environment.

Anyone experiencing sexual harassment should document what is happening and follow the appropriate reporting procedures within their company. It is also often a good idea to speak with an experienced San Francisco employment law attorney. Speaking with an attorney doesn't mean that you necessarily have to go to court, but it does help you make an informed decision about your options when dealing with workplace sexual harassment.

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