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Can simple things be sexual harassment?

Most people know about more drastic cases of sexual harassment and don’t have to ask if anything improper has been done — they know it has. If your boss tells you that he or she would like you to spend the night on a business trip, in exchange for a promotion, it’s obvious that this behavior crosses the line.

But what about simple, more innocent behavior? Can it too be sexual harassment? This is where the lines get a bit more blurry.

For instance, some experts have noted that something as simple as a hug could be cited in a sexual harassment case. If you did not want the hug, you may have felt that your physical space was violated. You may also think the person only hugged you for sexual reasons, to be physically closer to you.

In most cases, the key with things like this is whether or not you said you didn’t want that type of contact to happen. How frequently it happens is also important.

If a co-worker comes to work one day and randomly decides to give you a hug, you’re going to have a hard time proving that it was harassment if the other person maintains that it was an innocent gesture.

If, on the other hand, the co-worker tries to hug you every day and you clearly tell him or her that you don’t want to be hugged, it’s harassment if the person continues to do it against your will.

Whenever you feel like something is crossing a line, be very clear when communicating your own wishes, and then make sure you know what legal options you have in Florida.

Source: Northwester, “1. What are some examples of sexual harassment?,” accessed May 19, 2016

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