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How common is sexual harassment?

There is little argument that sexual harassment has come to the forefront, over the past few years, of the legal and ethical discussions surrounding professional life. However, many people are still unclear as to what exactly constitutes this behavior. If you have these questions, you might find validation in knowing that the California courts are probably currently considering relevant cases at this very moment. 

Sexual or gender harassment is inarguably present in many workplaces around the state; simply glancing at the news of court verdicts favoring claimants in these cases should provide evidence of this. Whether it is present in your work environment, legally speaking, is a different question.

According to a New York Times survey of over 600 people, you are likely to be the victim of some sort of crude behavior at work: about one out of four men engage in a low-level type of harassment that includes inappropriate jokes, lewd storytelling or sharing of illicit videos. 

The NYT article explaining the survey also notes that over 10 percent of men self-identified as repeat offenders, performing a combination of offensive behaviors three or more times in the past year. This is significant because, while a court might consider a single event to be sexual harassment, you could also have a case if exposed to a pattern of low-level aggression.

Your definition of aggressive behavior might be different than your colleagues' ideas of what constitutes harassment. Additionally, you might be subjected to undue pressure that keeps you silent, or else keeps you feeling alone. Any of these factors could influence your perception of the severity and frequency of harassment. However, it is often up to you, and potentially to the courts, to have the final word on the subject. Please do not take this as legal advice for a particular case. It is simply meant to educate you in a general sense.

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