Can Verbal Comments Be Sexual Harassment?


What Is Sexual Harassment?

Sexual harassment can be any unwelcome physical or verbal conduct of a sexual nature. Verbal sexual harassment can be common in any workplace, manifesting in ways such as sexually inappropriate comments, sexual propositions, unwelcome flirting, and jokes of a sexual nature.

When any representative of your employer says things of a sexual nature that make you feel disgusted, intimidated, and/or unsafe, they are likely engaging in verbal sexual harassment.

The West Virginia Human Rights Act expressly forbids unwelcome sexual advances, requests for favors, or any other unwanted verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature. If a colleague subjects you to such unfair treatment at work, you should consult with an employment law attorney for legal guidance.

What Are Some Examples of Verbal Sexual Harassment?

Verbal sexual harassment may not always be apparent, especially if one is unfamiliar with some of the specific ways this behavior is commonly perpetrated. However, this form of sexual harassment is just as inexcusable as any other, which makes it important to identify.

Here are a few specific examples of verbal sexual harassment:

  • Using inappropriate nicknames for someone, such as “baby,” “sweetie,” “missy,” “stud,” or the like
  • Making a sexualized comment about an employee’s physical appearance
  • Asking about an employee’s sexual activity
  • Requesting sexual favors
  • Talking about one’s own sexual activity or fantasies
  • Repeatedly requesting a date from someone who is clearly not interested
  • Telling jokes of a sexual nature or that demean one’s sex

If you’re experiencing verbal sexual harassment similar to these examples, you should consult with an employment law attorney to learn more about your legal options.

Are You Protected Against Retaliation?

It can be difficult to come forward and report a colleague’s sexual harassment to your employer. It’s not uncommon for employees to fear retaliation not only from those perpetrating sexual harassment but also retaliation from their employers.

Any such retaliation, however, is illegal. By law, your employer can’t legally reprimand or terminate you when you report sexual harassment. Instead, your employer is obligated to take your report seriously, investigate it, and take reasonable action to prevent sexual harassment from reoccurring. Remember, employees have protections against all types of sexual harassment, and retaliation cannot be used to discourage or take revenge for the exercising of your rights.

If your employer does retaliate against you or refuses to take your report seriously, you may have additional legal claims. Consult with an employment law attorney as soon as possible for more information.

Rod Smith Law PLLC Can Help

If you are experiencing sexual harassment at work of any kind, Rod Smith Law PLLC can offer the legal support you need. Our dedicated legal team has the skill and experience necessary to investigate a client’s claim and develop a legal strategy that helps them assert their rights.

You can recover compensation for sexual harassment at work with our assistance. Learn how during a consultation with one of our skilled lawyers.

Contact Rod Smith Law PLLC today to request your free initial consultation.

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