No one likes to feel uncomfortable at their place of employment. Most Massachusetts residents spend the vast majority of their time at work, so it only makes sense that having a welcoming, peaceful place to spend the larger part of one’s day is a top priority for most employees. Unfortunately, the workplace can often become an arena of tension and turmoil, especially if an employee is singled out and harassed.

There are several ways in which employees can experience harassment at the workplace. Some may be targeted due to their ethnicity, while others may be singled out because of a disability. However, the most common form of harassment at job sites across Massachusetts is sexual harassment.

While the state of Massachusetts has certain laws and guidelines in place that require employers to adopt policies that prevent and justly handle sexual harassment claims, as well as regulations that protect victims, numerous workplaces are often plagued with incidents of sexual harassment and employers may not even do anything to help those who have been violated.

Understanding What Constitutes Sexual Harassment

Sexual harassment is considered a form of discrimination. Incidents can range in type and severity, but overall, sexual harassment includes any actions or comments that are sexual in nature and unwanted, unwelcomed, and unsolicited by the recipient. In addition, sexual harassment can also encompass acts of retaliation against a suspected victim by a co-worker or boss if the individual files a complaint about the incident or refuses to give in to any sexual requests or demands.

Some common examples of sexual harassment at the workplace include:

  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Repeated requests for a date
  • Unwelcomed touching
  • Quid pro quo (this for that) bargaining, such as promising a promotion in exchange for sexual favors
  • Derogatory comments regarding someone’s appearance, gender, or sexual orientation
  • Attack or assault, such as rape or attempted rape
  • Retaliation when reporting an incident 

Who Can Be a Victim of Sexual Harassment at the Workplace?

While the majority of sexual harassment victims in Massachusetts are women, the truth is that anyone can suffer from this type of workplace discrimination. Although it can be difficult for victims to come forward with allegations, the longer it takes to disclose an incident, the harder it will be to both put an end to the workplace hostility and obtain justice.

Regardless of the severity of the incident, it’s important for anyone who believes they have been sexually harassed to contact an experienced employment lawyer for assistance like Raymond Dinsmore with Dinsmore Stark in Northampton. Prolonged exposure to hostile and unwanted sexual conduct at a job can lead to several negative side effects, including significant stress, fear, and a decrease in work performance, explains an Avvo.com article about harassment at the Massachusetts workplace.

Because the lines between what is often considered a joke or friendly banter and what can be dubbed as sexual harassment is often blurred, the best way victims can protect their rights is by consulting with an employment attorney in Massachusetts like Raymond Dinsmore with Dinsmore Stark who understands the intricacies of the state’s employment laws and who can help the victim both obtain compensation and ensure that the unwanted actions, comments, or advances cease once and for all.