Are Hugs Appropriate At The Workplace?
People often talk about their co-workers, supervisors and company as a “family.” While people mean well when they say this, there are boundaries between co-workers that exist for a reason. You should never be forced to hug or be physically affectionate with a co-worker or supervisor. When someone violates your boundaries, especially after repeated violations, you may have legal options.
When A Hug Raises Red Flags
Workplace harassment and sexual harassment are insidious. They are often accompanied by behaviors that go unnoticed by others. To know if a hug is appropriate or should raise concerns, you can ask yourself some of the following questions:
- Who is hugging you? Not hugging in the workplace is a good rule of thumb. However, certain relationships are more important than others. For instance, married persons who work together may be able to hug without it being harassment. On the other hand, a supervisor should avoid hugging their subordinates almost universally.
- What circumstances exist? Some events, like retirement or a marriage, may be an exception. In these cases, hugging may be or seem appropriate. If so, the broader context can impact how the law views this behavior.
- Is there a pattern of behavior? For many individuals, hugging contributes to a wider pattern of harassment. A hug accompanied by groping or from someone who says inappropriate things at work can be a symptom of a broader harassment issue.
- Have you expressed prior concern? If you express that you are uncomfortable with hugs, but a co-worker continues to hug you, this may be harassment. It does not matter if your co-worker is a “hugger.”
If you have additional questions, we are happy to give you qualified legal advice.
Reach Out To Hennig, Ruiz & Singh For An Appointment
Not all workplace harassment is ill-intentioned. Some people simply do not pay attention to boundaries or norms. Each case is different. For help determining if you have legitimate grounds for a workplace or sexual harassment claim, you can reach our attorneys at (213) 292-5444 and speak with us for free.