Supervisors and employees often work closely together and may even develop friendships, but this is no excuse to tolerate sexual harassment in or out of the workplace.
Because of their positions of authority, supervisors can often coerce their employees into not reporting or simply tolerating inappropriate conduct and behaviors. But employees do not have to remain silent.
Here are five inappropriate behaviors that employees should not have to tolerate from supervisors:
1. Inappropriate Hugs.
While a hug is a perfectly amiable form of affection between friends and loved ones, a supervisor who's a "hugger" can really give employees the creeps. While there's an argument to be made about whether hugs in general are right for the workplace, hugs that are too close, too long, or too tight are not OK. If you feel your supervisor is getting up in your personal space with his or her hugs, you may want to speak to someone in human resources.
2. Sexual Propositions.
It isn't illegal for a supervisor and employee to have sex, but employees should not be propositioned in a work environment. In fact, "unwelcome sexual advances" is pretty much the hallmark of the classic sexual harassment suit. Even if your supervisor or boss makes a move on you after work or outside the office, if it continues after you've rebuffed him or her, report the incident to your employer.
3. Sexual Coercion.
Sex in exchange for promises of promotion or under threat of termination is unlawful sexual harassment, and you should not tolerate either from supervisors. Case in point: The former Yahoo! employee who recently accused her supervisor of coercing her into sex against her will, with the threat of retribution at work if she refused; Yahoo! insists the ex-employee's claims are baseless.
4. Being Fired by Your Ex.
It's not the best idea to date your supervisor, but as seen in another high-profile harassment lawsuit filed by an ex-employee of the dating app Tinder, you don't have to tolerate an ex-lover firing you based on your former relationship. Even if you aren't terminated immediately after the breakup, you do not have to tolerate this behavior.
5. Name Calling.
Whether good or bad, you don't have to endure being called names by supervisors. If a supervisor calls you "slutty" or the "B"-word, report him or her to HR. If it's "sweetheart" or "honey" instead, you may also want to report that activity. Either one can form the basis of a sexual harassment suit, and should not be excusable behavior from a boss or manager.
If you have questions about how to file a suit based on these behaviors, contact an experienced employment attorney near you.
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