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Do those who commit sexual harassment fit a mold?

There are cliches about those who commit sexual harassment in the workplace, like the older boss who makes advances toward the young secretary. However, this is just one more illustration of how stereotypes can be dangerous, as experts warn that those who commit this harassment don't always fit into the same exact mold. For example:

-- Both men and women can commit sexual harassment.-- Someone could be harassed by another person of the same sex or the opposite sex.-- Both people could be the same age, or they could be very far apart in age.-- Harassers can be peers, supervisors, managers, company owners, and even those who are beneath the people they are harassing in the corporate structure.-- People can be harassed even if they are not targeted—other employees who are around when it happens, for instance—and so the harasser may not even have a relationship with the person who is offended.-- Harassment can occur between two people who are in a relationship or those who are not.-- Harassment can be very obvious and overt, or it can be hidden; for example, all harassment doesn't take place at an employee's desk, as the harasser could just send inappropriate emails or text messages.

The important thing to remember is that harassment can look very different in different situations, and those who commit it may not always fall easily into the cliche caricature that people expect. This does not change the fact that harassment has taken place, though, and so it's important for those who have been victimized in New Jersey to know what legal options they have.

Source: About Human Resources, "Sexual Harassment," Susan M. Heathfield, accessed Oct. 29, 2015

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