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5 Common Myths about Sexual Harassment


What do you associate with sexual harassment at work? For many, they imagine a scenario when a female employee is subjected to sexual misconduct by a male supervisor or colleague. While this is by no means an incorrect association, it’s an incomplete picture of what sexual harassment is and can be.

Despite the reckoning we’ve had as a society with sexual harassment in the wake of the #MeToo movement, it’s still a prevalent problem. More than that, there are still many old myths about sexual harassment at work that can make it difficult for people to really grasp what it is or who can be affected.

Read on to explore some of these myths. Always consult a lawyer if you believe you’ve experienced sexual harassment at work.

1. Sexual Harassment Is Always Physical

A common misconception is that sexual harassment can only be something that physically happens to someone else. The reality is that a lot of sexual harassment is verbal and sounds like offensive comments about someone’s appearance, unwanted or sexualizing compliments, sexist or sexually explicit jokes, and more. Sexual harassment can even be the display or circulation of sexually explicit or offensive imagery and messages around the office, in email chains, etc.

2. Sexual harassment Is Always Directed at Someone

Sexual harassment doesn’t require a specific individual to be targeted for a claim to arise. Overheard comments that are sexist or sexually explicit in nature may contribute to the creation of a hostile work environment. If someone feels unsafe or distracted because their coworkers are making derogatory remarks or display sexually offensive imagery and messages, they may have adequate grounds for a sexual harassment lawsuit even if they weren’t singled out for mistreatment.

3. Sexual Harassment Only Happens to Women

One of the most common myths about sexual harassment is that it only happens to women and men are the only people who cause it. While this combination is most common, it’s dangerous to assume it’s the only way a sexual harassment claim is valid.

Not only can men be victims too, but anyone can be a victim of anyone else in the workplace – all ages, genders, and sexual orientations included. Just because a victim has certain personal characteristics and their abuser shares or has different characteristics never justifies sexual harassment.

4. Sexual Harassment Is Different from Discrimination

People often think of sex discrimination and sexual harassment as two different things, but they are actually one and the same. Sexual harassment is sex discrimination, but it’s a term used to categorize people’s behaviors rather than a company’s policies, but both refer to disproportional mistreatment based upon one’s sex.

5. Remote Work Makes Sexual Harassment Impossible

If people are working at home or away from the company’s main worksite, they might feel as if they don’t have to worry about sexual harassment. The unfortunate reality is that many of the non-physical forms of sexual harassment that apply at the office can manifest at a home office.

Some of these can include:

  • Circulation of pornography or sexual imagery in company emails or chatgroups
  • A colleague making sexist or sexually offensive comments during a phone or video conference
  • A coworker exposing themselves or making obscene gestures during a video conference
  • Requests for sexual favors in exchange for workplace incentives

Do You Need Legal Assistance?

If you believe you’ve experienced sexual harassment at work, get legal assistance by reaching out to K2 Employment Law Group. Our employment law attorneys are committed to helping people like you seek fair and just compensation when their rights were violated at work.

Get started today by scheduling a free initial consultation with us. Call (800) 590-7674 or contact us online for more information.