Some men just cannot tell a difference between a work environment, which requires respect and professionalism, and a casual setting at a bar where they can approach women, stare at them, touch them, offer them drinks, and make a variety of other unwelcome sexual advances.
But let’s imagine the following scenario. You are a man who is sitting at a desk, pen in mouth, preoccupied with work-related thoughts, and you realize that you have been sitting like this and staring at your female co-worker for like 10 seconds. Creepy, right?
Or imagine that you are sipping your tea and munching on a delicious sandwich as your eyes wander and linger for 5 or 10 seconds on a female colleague. And, again, you were simply lost in thought, this time family-related. Again, creepy for the woman you have been staring at.
So when does staring at a co-worker of the opposite sex constitute sexual harassment? This is the question we asked our Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney at JML Law. As ridiculous as it may sound, many men in California and all across the U.S. have no idea when staring at a female colleague can be considered inappropriate conduct and when it amounts to sexual harassment.
Does staring in the workplace constitute sexual harassment?
Ever since the #MeToo movement became a thing in the United States, some businesses and employers all across the nation have begun discussing in anti-harassment training with their employees and supervisors whether staring at a female co-worker constitutes sexual harassment.
During these sessions, workers are being taught about the differences between appropriate and inappropriate conduct when it comes to communication with their co-workers, subordinates, and clients. Lingering hugs, inappropriate touching, whispering in the ear, flirting, repeatedly inviting your co-worker on a date or asking for their number despite being turned down, and staring, among other things.
All these things are being discussed during anti-harassment training sessions nowadays. For a male worker in 2018, complimenting a female colleague on her clothes or appearance is like walking through a minefield. Talking about or doing anything that could remotely be considered sexual, inappropriate or offensive in the workplace has become something that could get you in trouble.
Staring at work and sexual harassment: are there any laws?
Okay, so how long can you stare at a co-worker without being creepy and without crossing into the realm of sexual harassment? Our experienced sexual harassment attorney in Los Angeles says there is no law regulating how many seconds a worker should stare at his or her co-worker for it to constitute sexual harassment.
More often than not, in order for staring to be considered sexual harassment, it is coupled with other conduct such as offensive comments, inappropriate touching, or other sexual misconduct in the workplace that creates a hostile work environment for the target of the alleged harassment.
This past summer, Netflix introduced an anti-harassment training for its employees, in which it banned workers from looking at co-workers, subordinates, and clients for longer than five seconds. In general, this might seem like a common-sense rule for staring in the workplace, but it depends on the situation.
If your colleague, employer, supervisors, co-worker, client, or subordinate has been staring at you, and you thought it was creepy, you may be able to file a sexual harassment claim. Consult with our Los Angeles sexual harassment attorney from JML Law to speak about your particular situation. Call at 818-610-8800 for a free case evaluation.