Physical threats, off-color jokes at the water cooler, unwelcome sexual advances -- all of this conduct may be considered harassment under certain conditions. The law provides the most protection for citizens at the state level, which means harassment laws vary depending on your location. Here's a look at some of the behaviors that the law recognizes as harassment.
Despite the name, this type of harassment doesn't have to be sexual in nature; derogatory or insulting comments about one's gender also fall into this category. And sexual harassment isn't a crime exclusively perpetrated on women. The victim and the harasser can be of either gender as well as the same sex.
Requests for sexual favors and unwanted physical contact, like pinching, brushing up against someone or giving a shoulder massage, are considered sexual harassment.
Employee harassment covers a range of behaviors and situations. The most obvious example is workplace discrimination based on age, race, sexuality or another trait protected by Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Verbal comments and physical actions that create an intimidating, offensive or hostile environment are also included.
The harasser can be a coworker, a supervisor or a nonemployee. And the victim doesn't have to be the subject of the bullying; an individual who has been affected by the behavior is also considered victimized.
According to studies from 2007 through 2015, an average of 26 percent of middle school and high school students have experienced cyberbullying at least once in their short lifetimes. And though it's often discussed in the context of protecting children, online bullying can happen to adults, too. Approximately 40 percent of adult internet users have personally experienced online harassment, whether that's name-calling, having rumors spread about them, being threatened, or having private photos shared publicly against their will.