Employees in Kentucky and throughout the U.S. are afforded several protections in the workplace. Among these is the right to not have to endure unwelcome or otherwise offensive behaviors or comments at work. To ensure the workplace stays a safe environment, it is important for employees and employers alike to understand workplace sexual harassment.

According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment occurs when applicants or employees are subjected to unwanted sexual advances or requests for sexual favors, or other physical or verbal conduct that is sexual in nature. Such behavior crosses the line when it is so severe that it creates a hostile or otherwise offensive working environment, or when it results in the victims of such conduct getting fired, demoted or facing other adverse employment repercussions.

According to the U.S. EEOC, this type of inappropriate work behavior does not always occur between people of opposite sexes. Further, the alleged victims and harassers may be women or men. In some cases, the offensive conduct may not have been directed at the victim. Rather, those affected may be other workers for whom the behavior was so offensive that it interfered with his or her work performance or created a hostile work environment.

It is important to keep in mind that workplace sexual harassment does not always involve supervisors or managers and their subordinates. Those alleged of sexual harassment can be the victims’ direct workplace superiors, as well as managers of other areas, co-workers, agents of their employers or non-employees. Although it sometimes does, sexual harassment does not have to include economic injury or employment termination for the alleged victims.