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Is my working environment hostile?

Sexual harassment is more common in the workplace than many might think. This is because often people tend to believe that the only instances of harassment occur when a person is forceful or attempts to make a sexual advance on an employee.

While these actions do constitute sexual harassment, much more subtle acts can also count as sexual harassment. This is why employees should understand what types of behaviors are considered to be sexual harassment under the law. When trying to show that subtle or repeated acts were a form of workplace sexual harassment, you will need to prove that the behavior created a hostile working environment.

What is a hostile working environment?

A hostile working environment means that you are working in a place that you feel constantly anxious, fearful, worried or ostracized in some way. You may dread being in the office and feel like no-one supports you. Alternatively, you may fear having contact with one person who is responsible for making you feel uncomfortable.

Does a hostile working environment always mean that sexual harassment is taking place?

A hostile working environment can be brought about by many different factors. For example, a controlling boss could be bullying you, which is not acceptable. Bullying is a type of harassment, but it is not necessarily sexual. To make a sexual harassment claim you must show that the hostile working environment was caused by sexually inappropriate behavior, such as making sexually inappropriate jokes, asking sexual questions or sending explicit material.

You must take action if you believe you have fallen victim to sexual harassment. Doing so can help you protect your career in the long run.

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