What type of conduct constitutes sexual harassment in the workplace?

Author: Rhonda Leabo

Sexual harassment in the workplace occurs whenever an individual makes unwelcome sexual overtures, either verbal or physical, against another individual.

Sexual harassment can consist of verbal conduct, nonverbal conduct, written conduct or physical conduct. Sexual harassment may also include using sexual or offensive words, gestures, or jokes. Any unwanted touching or bodily contact can constitute sexual harassment, including patting, or grabbing an individual or restricting an individual's ability to move. Also, sending sexually explicit pictures or messages can constitute sexual harassment.

In order to qualify as actionable sexual harassment, meaning the employee might be successful in bringing a lawsuit against the company and/or the individual in question, the conduct must be unwelcome as well as "severe and pervasive."