12 Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace


No one wants to become a victim of sexual harassment when they go to work, but the truth is that not everyone knows what sexual harassment is exactly. This means that some people who are frequently making inappropriate comments or telling dirty jokes might not even know that they are harassing their coworkers. It also means some people don’t know that what they are enduring every single day at work is indeed sexual harassment.

Here are a few examples of sexual harassment in the workplace that can help you figure out if something wrong is happening in your office.

1. Sharing dirty jokes and anecdotes

The workplace is not the right place to share dirty jokes and sexual anecdotes. The persons telling these jokes and anecdotes in the office or in the break room probably simply want to be funny, but they are in fact sexually harassing their coworkers.

2. Making comments about someone’s clothes or body

No one should be making sexual comments and remarks about your clothes or your body. Maybe they only mean to compliment you, but their unwanted and inappropriate comments, especially if they are made frequently, are a good example of what sexual harassment can be.

3. Requesting sexual favours

This is probably one of the first things people think about when they hear of sexual harassment. If your boss or one of your coworkers is requesting sexual favours from you, they are sexually harassing you. Someone who is repeatedly asking you out on a date and won’t take no for an answer is also harassing you.

4. Making rude and offensive comments

Making rude and offensive comments about someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity is never okay. No one wants to hear the opinions of their coworkers on these topics, and offensive remarks are definitely examples of sexual harassment in the workplace.

5. Asking indiscreet questions

Your personal life is personal, and no one has the right to ask you questions that make you feel uncomfortable. Asking indiscreet questions about a coworker’s sexual orientation and sex life is another example of sexual harassment. Curiosity is not a crime, but it’s not always appropriate either.

6. Staring at someone in a suggestive way

Some might think that staring at someone they find attractive is innocent, or even flattering. But staring at a coworker in a sexually suggestive or offensive manner is another act of sexual harassment. No one wants to be constantly stared at when they are just trying to do their job.

7. Whistling and catcalling

Whistling and catcalling are obviously examples of sexual harassment in the workplace. It’s not acceptable for someone to whistle and yell at one of their coworkers to make loud sexual advances or comments. There is nothing flattering about being catcalled: it can leave the victim feeling embarrassed, disgusted, irritated, or scared about what the harasser might say or do to them if they fail to get their attention.

8. Making suggestive hand gestures

Blowing kisses at someone and making suggestive hand gestures while looking at them is not okay. No one should have to endure this while they are at the workplace, and no one should think it’s alright to make dirty hand gestures at their coworkers.

9. Sharing suggestive images

There are a lot of things you shouldn’t do while you are at work, and looking at porn is one of them. Sharing pornographic pictures, videos, and other suggestive images in an email, or showing them to someone directly is considered sexual harassment. If someone wants to share porn with a coworker who enjoys this type of things, they can do it after they have left the office, not during their work hours.

10. Displaying sexual signs or posters

Displaying signs, signage or posters with a sexual connotation is also an example of sexual harassment. The workplace is a place where everyone should be able to feel safe, and sexual signage displayed on the office walls will only create a toxic and hostile work environment.

11. Brushing up against someone

Purposefully brushing up against another person while they are walking or while they are sitting at their desk is also a form of sexual harassment. It isn’t harassment if it happened unintentionally, but it is definitely harassment if it was done on purpose, and if it happens repeatedly.

12. Touching someone

Finally, touching someone, whether it’s kissing, hugging, patting, pinching, stroking or rubbing, is considered sexual harassment. Any act that is unwanted, unwelcomed, and inappropriate should not be tolerated by the person who feels like their personal space was violated.

If you are, or if someone you work with is a victim of sexual harassment, don’t stay silent. You deserve to be respected by your boss and your coworkers, and to feel like your workplace is a safe place.

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12 Examples of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

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