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Do you know what sexual harassment looks like?

Most workers in Florida would be able to tell you that sexual harassment is illegal. They might also be able to discuss worker rights and talk about how workers have a right not to be harassed and a right to protection from retaliation if they report harassment. But do you as a Florida worker recognize sexual harassment when it occurs?

Probably, you're tempted to say of course you recognize sexual harassment. While some examples of harassment are blatant, such as a supervisor forcing a person into a situation in order to earn a promotion or raise, not all harassment events are so obvious. In a society where lewd and crude seems normal for many people, and the Internet makes it easy to share obscene or off-color humor, many people struggle with the line between acceptable and not acceptable.

When crossing the line seems like normal behavior, workers might be less likely to report an issue. They might think they are being overly sensitive or expect supervisors to laugh at them or belittle their complaints. That's why it's important for everyone within an organization to understand what sexual harassment looks like.

Some examples of sexual harassment include sending images that are sexual or graphic in nature to coworkers, whether you are using work-related machines and devices or not, and using lewd or suggestive comments in speech, text or email. Talking about someone's body in a suggestive way or commenting on someone's physical appearance can also be sexual harassment.

Most people can see the difference between complimenting someone by telling them their dress or shirt looks great on them and making a comment about a specific body part. However, sexual harassment can occur with seemingly innocent comments if those comments are made in a suggestive, sexual or threatening manner.

Employees who are uncomfortable with a situation should always be able to report it without fear of laughter or retaliation. If you feel you are being sexually harassed and reports of the behavior are being ignored, then you might have grounds for legal action. Understanding and exercising your rights is often easier when you work side-by-side with a legal professional.

Source: Money, "How to Recognize Sexual Harassment in the Workplace," Heather Huhman, accessed Dec. 04, 2015

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