How to know when flirtatious workplace behavior crosses the line?

Many employers in Missouri have policies in place to prevent workplace behavior. It is still an activity that commonly happens on the job every day. It is not unusual for workers to find themselves on the receiving end of compliments and other friendly, flirtatious behavior. While some individuals do not mind receiving and exchanging this type of treatment from their co-workers, there are some who question if it is acceptable. 

It is not always easy to tell when someone is crossing the line in their advances and being overly friendly. Some people do not enjoy the sexual or romantic attention they receive from their co-workers and might feel threated by it. Individuals who are not sure if they are being sexually harassed should consider the following information. 

Not all friendly and flirtatious behavior classifies as sexual harassment. Only the comments, events and actions that are unwanted. According to the ChicagoTribune.com, “sexual harassment interactions are usually one-way” and not reciprocated by the receiver. For example, if a boss mentions that a sweater looks nice on one of their employee’s and the worker smiles and thanks them for the compliment, that exchange is not sexual in nature, nor is it harassment. However, if the boss suggestions that the sweater enhanced the worker’s physical appearance in a sexual or romantic manner and the worker took offense, their bosses comments may have crossed the fine line into sexual harassment territory. 

It is not easy for employees to know when their actions are offensive and threatening to others. Many victims of sexual harassment do not speak up. Others, go along with the behavior because they do not know how to respond, report or stop it and fear retaliation.

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