What is sexual harassment in the workplace? Where exactly can it happen? Who can it happen to? How can you prevent it? This article answers those questions and more.
What is sexual harassment in the workplace?
Sexual harassment is any unwanted sexual advances or conduct or obscene remarks made toward you in a job environment. The conduct must be unwelcome and must affect either the victim's employment, unreasonably interfere with their work performance, or it must create a hostile, intimidating or offensive work environment. It does not have to cause any economic injury to the victim. The sexual advances can be verbal or physical conduct.
Sexual harassment is a form of discrimination. Sexual harassment violates the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
Where can it happen?
Sexual harassment can happen in any workplace, or professional or social situation.
Who can experience sexual harassment in the workplace?
Anyone can be a victim of sexual harassment. While statistically, women are often the victims of sexual, it by no means, is limited to women. The victim and the harasser may be a man or a woman. Additionally, the victim does not have to be person of the opposite gender.
The harasser can be, but isn't limited to being, the victim's supervisor, a co-worker, or a non-employee. The victims can be employees or non-employees such as customers or venders.
Some examples of sexual harassment in the workplace:
A manager says things to an employee implying that they have to sleep with them in order to keep or advance in a job.
An employee who sent their coworkers an email containing sexually explicit content.
A supervisor who inappropriately touched, pinched or fondled another employee against their will.
How can I prevent sexual harassment in the workplace?
Employers can take several steps to making the workplace a safer environment for their employees. It is highly encouraged of employers to inform employees that any sexual harassment will not be tolerated. Employers can provide sexual harassment training for all their employees. It's important to train employees, supervisors and managers on how to deal with sexual harassment at every level of the company. Employers can also develop a strong system for filing complaints. It's important for employers to have an process for quickly and effectively dealing with employee complaints and grievances.
What can I do if I've experienced sexual harassment in the workplace?
The victim may find it helpful to inform their harasser that their conduct is unwanted and that it must stop happening. The victim should inform their supervisor in writing of the conduct. If your job has a system it uses for filing complaints, that's the best system to utilize.