Sexual harassment in the workplace has become a national conversation on social media and in the workplace. Women and men have been coming forward, voicing their personal experiences.
Throughout this conversation this question has been raised: “What behavior is appropriate in the workplace?”
The answer may seem obvious, but experts say within some industries this is the first time “workplace culture” has been challenged.
“I understand the fear that people have,” said Katharine Esser, the Assistant Director of Research and Training at the Women’s Center in Fort Worth. “For some there may be fear of, 'oh gosh is what I’m saying going to be misconstrued?' But again, being able to ask and having that communication getting to know your co-workers on that level and know what's appropriate."
Allegations of sexual harassment and assault by politicians, actors, comedians, movie producers, Olympic doctors and television hosts have come to light in the past few weeks. The severity of each incident varies.
"The level of harassment depends on the person on the receiving end, so I think there is a level of respect we should be showing to our co-workers. It crosses the line with sexual harassment. that's showing disrespect to your fellow colleagues,” said Esser.
The Human Relations Commission defines sexual harassment as "unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature."
There are many forms of sexual harassment; common complaints include fondling, suggestive remarks, sexually-suggestive photo's, displayed in the workplace or off-color jokes.