Can salacious rumors create a hostile work environment?

On Behalf of | Sep 25, 2021 | Employment Law |

When people think about sexual harassment, many minds often conflate it with sexual assault. This is especially true in the age of modern media, where the biggest and most well-known cases involve physical aspects of assault or attack in some way.

However, a victim does not need to suffer through physical attack or assault in order to file for sexual harassment charges. Even rumors may serve as enough of a pushing point to do that.

What is non-physical sexual harassment?

U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission takes a look at sexual harassment at work. As mentioned, despite popular thought, sexual harassment cases do not always involve assault or any physical aspect. In fact, in many cases, sexual harassment never goes beyond verbal threats or coercion.

When thinking of non-physical sexual harassment, many cases involve superiors taking advantage of their position of power in an attempt to wheedle or threaten sexual favors out of a worker. However, co-workers can also contribute to a hostile work environment and engage in non-physical sexual harassment.

Rumors disrupting Worklife

This can occur when co-workers spread salacious rumors about a victim’s sexual life, orientation, private affairs and more. In some cases, this also becomes an instance of slander, which a victim can also sue for damages regarding.

Rumors can easily progress to the point where they disrupt a worker’s ability to maintain focus, peace and safety in their work environment, and the creation of a hostile work environment is necessary in order to report instances of sexual harassment. Targeted workers may feel judged, victimized, bullied and ostracized. They may even face vandalization of personal property and bullying off the clock.

Those who experience these issues can file for sexual harassment charges and may wish to contact legal help to learn more about their options.