Does asking a coworker for a date constitute sexual harassment?

On Behalf of | Jan 6, 2023 | Harassment At Work

If you have ever been the subject of someone’s advances, you know how awkward and even icky they can be. For that reason, you stay on guard when you visit bars and clubs, as these places can be hotbeds for unwanted pickup attempts. You should be safe at work, however.

Sexual harassment continues to be alarmingly common in workplaces around the country. In fact, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, almost 40% of women report having experienced it. Does a coworker’s request for a date cross the line, though?

Context

In determining whether asking for a date qualifies as sexual harassment, context matters. Usually, a single or off-handed remark does not rise to the level of sexual harassment. Therefore, if a colleague requests a date once, you might not be a victim of it. Repeated requests certainly get you closer to sexual harassment, however.

Response

Assuming your coworker is an adult, he or she should be able to handle and respect your response. Thus, if you reject your colleague’s date request, your rejection should be the end of the matter. If your colleague mistreats or bullies you, you may have evidence of sexual harassment. Likewise, if your coworker makes remarks about you to others in the workplace, you might have grounds to lodge a complaint.

Your company might have a policy that prohibits dating between employees. If so, even a single date request might violate the policy. Ultimately, though, you should be able to count on your employer to take any complaints you make seriously.