A common form of workplace harassment is inappropriate touching. It is a traumatic experience that often leaves employees not wanting to return to work, not wanting to perform their duties, and causes them to suffer emotional stress.
The workplace should be an environment free of harassment at all times. However, there are people who abuse their position of power to get what they want. It’s important that you speak with a Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney if you are the victim of inappropriate touching at work.
When contact turns inappropriate
For many, inadvertently coming into contact with someone else is harmless. For example, if you turn the corner and bump into a co-worker, this is obviously a harmless accident. However, there are other situations where contact with a co-worker can be inappropriate.
Contact with a co-worker becomes inappropriate when it makes you feel uncomfortable, when it is unwanted, or if it becomes violent. The contact doesn’t have to come from a supervisor or other person in a position of power for it to be deemed inappropriate.
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) doesn’t provide a strict definition of harassment. Instead, the agency makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against employees or job candidates based on gender, age, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or race.
There are many forms of contact that can be deemed inappropriate and viewed as harassment, including the following:
- Holding hands
- Unwanted sexual contact
- Physical assault
- Any type of physical contact
How to handle unwanted touching at work
No one should have to deal with unwanted touching in the workplace. Dreading going to work each morning is a stressor that you should not have in your life. If you are the victim of unwanted touching or contact, be sure to protect your rights by taking the following steps:
- Document every incidence of unwanted touching. The documentation should include the date and time the incident occurred, who touched you, and the names of anyone who witnessed the incident.
- Immediately tell the person who touched you that their advances are unwanted. Not every incidence of unwanted touching is strictly sexual in nature. Even if a co-worker touching your shoulder or giving you a high-five makes you uncomfortable, be sure to tell them.
- Report the behavior to your direct supervisor (if they are not the one making you feel uncomfortable) and the EEOC.
- Seek legal counsel. It is in your best interest to speak with a Los Angeles workplace harassment attorney about your situation as soon as possible.
Is there such a thing as appropriate touching at work?
When it comes to the workplace, there really is no such thing as appropriate touching. You should treat your co-workers as strangers in terms of touching or contact. A handshake or high-five might be acceptable in certain situations. However, it’s best to keep your hands to yourself.
Is unwanted contact always sexual harassment, even if it’s not sexual in nature?
You can be a victim of workplace harassment even when that harassment is not sexual in nature. If unwanted contact leads to a hostile work environment, it can be considered harassment. When a co-worker accidentally brushes up against you once, it might be an accident. If it happens repeatedly, and the co-worker was asked to stop, the situation turns into harassment.
How do I let my co-workers know I am uncomfortable?
In a perfect scenario, you wouldn’t have to worry about having such a conversation with a co-worker or supervisor. But, if you do, be sure to politely ask them to stop touching you, hovering over you, or even shaking your hand. Some people just don’t like physical interaction with anyone who isn’t a significant other or a family member. That’s ok and it’s your right to protect your physical space.
Are you the victim of unwanted or inappropriate contact in a Los Angeles workplace? You have the right to a safe work environment that is free of sexual harassment and other discriminatory practices. Call the office of Taylor & Ring at 310-776-6390, or complete the contact form to schedule a consultation today.
David Ring is a nationally renowned plaintiff’s personal injury trial attorney and has obtained multi-million dollar verdicts and settlements on behalf of seriously-injured individuals or families who have lost a loved one in a tragic accident. For more than 20 years, he has represented victims of sexual abuse, sexual harassment, assault, molestation and sexual misconduct in cases against a variety of employers and entities, including schools, churches and youth organizations.
He prides himself on providing aggressive, yet compassionate representation for children who have been sexually abused and women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted. Read more about David M. Ring.