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When is sexual harassment unlawful in the workplace?

Many people who become involved in an uncomfortable situation in the workplace wonder if they are making a big deal over nothing. It can be so easy to dismiss inappropriate behavior from a colleague as just an annoyance. Additionally, you may try to make excuses for them, blaming their lack of social skills or arrogant personality as something that they simply cannot help.

However, if a coworker's behavior is affecting the way that you think about work, or the way that you approach your job, you could be experiencing unlawful workplace harassment. You can take steps to address this issue by standing up for your right to be free of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The definition of unlawful harassment

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) puts forward that workplace harassment is any verbal or physical action that is unwelcome, and that is based on a characteristic such as color, religion, sex, race, disability, nationality and age.

When this harassment is frequent or severe enough to create a hostile working environment for the recipient of the behavior, it will constitute unlawful harassment. In addition, it is unlawful for such harassment to be communicated as something that must be endured as part of the employment conditions.

Can harassment take place before employment occurs?

You do not necessarily need to be employed by a company in order to be a victim of employment-related harassment. It is unlawful for your potential employer to ask questions about topics that relate to your ethnicity, religion, gender, disability, age, sex, nationality or parenthood.

An example of sexual harassment in a job interview could be a situation in which a job applicant is asked personal and inappropriate questions about their dating life, such as whether they are dating or looking to meet anyone. This is never an appropriate topic in an interview, and it should never be part of a recruitment process.

If you have had an uncomfortable experience in the workplace or at a job interview in New York, you may feel that the experience is affecting your career opportunities and the way in which you work. In this situation, you may want to consider asserting your legal rights to get the justice you deserve.

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