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A few basic facts about sexual harassment for Florida residents

For many Florida citizens, it can be difficult to tell sexual harassment apart from workplace jocularity. Of course, this is in reference to the more ambiguous forms of harassment such as inappropriate commentary and other seemingly simple actions. Severe forms of sexual harassment are typically quite obvious.

Having said that, many times Florida workers experience a sense of unease in the face of what might otherwise be perceived as harmless words or actions. As such, they begin to question if something more insidious might be happening in the workplace. Victims of sexual harassment at work often delay asserting their legal rights simply because they have trouble identifying where the line is drawn.

Here is what the EEOC (Equal Employment Opportunity Commission) has to say about sexual harassment in the workplace. The terms are simple, clear and easy for anyone to understand.

-- First of all, the behavior of the person harassing the victim must be unwanted.

-- Gender plays no role in what is considered harassment. Both the victim and the harasser may be a male or a female.

-- Further, the harasser can be of the same gender as the victim.

-- Harassment can occur from "a supervisor, an agent of the employer, a supervisor in another area, a co-worker, or a non-employee."

-- A person can be victimized by sexual harassment simply by witnessing or becoming affected by offensive conduct in the workplace.

-- Sexual harassment can occur without causing economic injury to the victim.

Victims of sexual harassment in Florida have a couple of ways to deal with this unwelcome behavior initially. They can directly tell the harasser to stop the conduct and they can go through the employer-provided grievance or complaint mechanism. If this fails to yield results or worsens the situation, victims can use the law to seek resolution by contacting an attorney.

Source: U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, "Facts About Sexual Harassment," accessed Feb. 10, 2016

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