Flirting With Disaster: Harassment Definition Elusive

August 10, 2001 ( - While 72% of respondents in a recent poll admit to flirting with co-workers, and 53% know someone who has been sexually harassed, not all agree on exactly what constitutes sexual harassment.

The survey by Mademoiselle magazine took readers temperatures on this touchy subject. Results show that:

  • just over 90% believe that sexual harassment is being touched on the breasts and legs,
  • some 86% agree that sexual harassment is being propositioned in the office,
  • while 73% define sexual harassment as being repeatedly asked out by a coworker

Unwelcome Advances

The Mademoiselle 2001 Sexual Harassment Survey also found that:

  • one in five respondents said that a superior had touched them against their will,
  • while 3% said reported being threatened with retaliation for not complying with a harasser’s advances

The poll questioned readers on their reaction to harassment, finding that

  • almost a quarter of the sample have confronted the harasser directly,
  • while 27% complained to superiors,
  • however, 47% either quit their job or tried to ignore the harassment

Dating Game

In addition,

  • while 52% have been asked out by an employee,
  • and 11% have been asked out by their boss,
  • just 36% admit to dating a co-worker

Some 52% of readers believe that the US needs to take sexual harassment laws further to better protect women. 

Some 15,836 charges of sexual harassment were filed last year, compared with 6,127 in 1990, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.