With sexual harassment finally being treated as the serious issue that it is, many employers have begun to implement certain trainings and even revise their current policies to ensure everyone working under them and alongside of them understands what constitutes as sexual harassment. Along with that, employers are also helping their staff become more familiar with the process they must follow if they want to file a sexual harassment complaint. While most of us are now aware of what sexual harassment is, there are still some grey areas that need to be addressed. One of those is the difference between flirting and sexual harassment.

While flirting once seemed like a harmless attempt at getting someone to notice you, in today’s day and age, it could be misconstrued to mean something else which is why individuals need to understand where the line is drawn and when they have crossed over it. So, lets first start with the definition of each.

  1. Flirting. According to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, someone who flirts shows “superficial or casual interest or liking.”
  2. Sexual harassment. The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines sexual harassment as “uninvited and unwelcome verbal or physical behavior of a sexual nature especially by a person in authority toward a subordinate.”

Now, the keyword here we must emphasize is “unwelcome.” If a co-worker or someone outside of the workplace setting does something that is inappropriate or says something in a sexual context that they believe is a form of flirting, they risk being accused of misconduct. Anytime a comment or action may slightly border being inappropriate or unwelcome, it is best to avoid saying or doing it. Although flirting is an ideal way to let someone know you are interested in them, BBC News highlights that “it’s about doing it in the right environment, not when people are least expecting it.”

Some other ways you can determine whether your behavior might be taken as a form of sexual harassment is if “its unwanted and persistent.” If you have gone too far and feel as though the person you are pursuing doesn’t want the attention you are trying to give them, take it as that and give them their space. And if your way of flirting can be paired with any of the following types of behavior, it is likely the person you are interested will feel as though they are being harassed:

  • You engage in non-consensual touching.
  • You feel entitled to this person.
  • You chase them down the street in order to spark a conversation.
  • You wolf-whistle just to get their attention.
  • You use your position of power or trust to talk to them in a sexual or “creepy” way.

If you find yourself interested in someone at work or even the cashier you see every Sunday morning while shopping in the grocery store and want to show you’re interested in them, it is best you approach them in a friendly way. Avoid saying anything sexual or using your hands to do anything that implies something sexual. And if you don’t receive the response you were hoping for, perhaps that person isn’t as interested in you as you would have liked.

Now, if you are someone who believes you have been sexually harassed while at work or in a different setting in Albuquerque, yet the person is claiming they were just flirting, it is best to speak with an Albuquerque, NM sexual harassment lawyer who can help distinguish whether you have a legitimate case on your hands. While we have seen progress being made in terms of how sexual harassment complaints are being handled, the fact is, there are still victims out there who are being subjected to unwanted behavior that violates their rights. 

If you would like help locating a sexual misconduct attorney in the Albuquerque, NM area, contact USAttorneys.com today.