Four signs that you may be being sexually harassed at work.  Number two may surprise you.

Image of woman disillusioned by sexual harassmentSexual harassment is one of the most common and insidious forms of workplace harassment.  According to a recent survey, one in three women between the ages of 18 and 34 has been sexually harassed at work.  In a recent article in The Atlantic, journalist Liza Mundy noted that, of the dozens of women she interviewed for the article, every single one had “stories about incidents that…chipped away at the [woman’s] sense of belonging and expertise.”

Unfortunately, the line between what is appropriate in the workplace and what may be sexual harassment is not always clear.  Familiarizing yourself with some of the common signs of sexual harassment can help you to recognize when sexual harassment is occurring in your workplace and be ready to take measures to protect yourself and others.

Your boss sends you inappropriate text messages

A harasser may be aware that their behavior is inappropriate and may attempt to hide their behavior from others.  In the workplace this is especially common because many employers have rules prohibiting relationships between employees and their supervisors, due to the likelihood that a supervisor will abuse their position of power.  If your supervisor is making advances via text message and asks you to hide this from your coworkers and from your employer, you should be wary.  If the texts that you are receiving from your boss are inappropriate or dirty, you may want to speak with someone with experience in such matters.

You feel uncomfortable about your body or clothing at work

Being comfortable at work allows you to focus on the task at hand, produce quality work, and advance your career.   Regrettably, many women are forced to spend mental energy worrying about whether their male coworkers are staring at their body.  What you may not know, is that your employer has a duty to provide a workplace free of sexual harassment.  That means that when you wear work-appropriate clothing, you shouldn’t be subjected to suggestive comments, whistling, or gawking.  If your coworkers are making you feel uncomfortable about your clothes or about your body, you may want to talk to your supervisor or HR.  If your employers don’t address the problem, it may be time to call an employment lawyer.

Your supervisor is cold to you after you reject them

Your supervisor may have approached you and asked you on a date or he may have simply told you that he thinks you are attractive.  You may have responded by explaining you weren’t interested, telling him that you are not available, or by changing the subject.  All too often, a supervisor will respond to rejection, no matter how delicate, by becoming cold and dismissive.  Fortunately, you don’t have to suffer simply because you weren’t interested in a romantic relationship with the supervisor.  You are entitled to the same treatment as every other employee.

Your supervisor or coworker keeps pursuing you after you have rejected them

Some individuals may be undeterred after a rejection and may continue to pursue you.  Once you have told your supervisor or coworker that you are not interested, you are entitled to be left alone.  If you have told a supervisor or coworker that you are not interested and they continue pursuing you, you may be experiencing workplace sexual harassment.


Recognizing sexual harassment in the workplace is the first step in preventing it.  The signs discussed above are by no means the only signs of sexual harassment.  Not all inappropriate behavior is illegal and there may be no illegal activity even if one of these signs is present.  However, if your instincts tell you that your supervisor or coworker is acting inappropriately, the chances are that you are right.  If you or someone you know is dealing with inappropriate behavior, you may have the power to stop it.  The process of stopping workplace sexual harassment usually begins with a free and confidential call with a lawyer so that you can better understand your rights and your options.

Contact right now if you have concerns about harassment in your workplace and would like free advice in a confidential consultation. Tel: 760-239-0230.


David Peer

About the author

David focuses his practice on civil litigation for small businesses and individuals. Prior to founding Peer & Hart, PC, David worked in WilmerHale's Los Angeles office litigating complex matters for multi-national corporations. David was a member of WilmerHale's patent litigation group and was on the trial team for large-scale patent cases in Federal Court. In 2015, David helped try a multi-week, billion dollar patent case. David also took part in government investigations and major discovery projects, giving him a deep understanding of efficiency and cost-reduction strategies in pre-trial litigation.

Since forming Peer | Hart, David has defended his clients from employment suits and actions in front of administrative agencies. David has negotiated favorable settlements and counseled his clients on cost effective litigation strategy and litigation prevention. David has an engineering degree and is registered to prosecute patents in front of the US Patent and Trademark Office.

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