All over the news are cases of sexual harassment in the workplace. These women, and sometimes men, have come forward with their #metoo stories, but most appear to be at one extreme end of the spectrum.
Many of these women are celebrities across various industries, not just Hollywood. They tell of stories of rape, unwanted massages, groping of private parts, and more.
And now that you've read about their stories, you've started thinking that maybe your story isn't so bad. You weren't sexually assaulted like many of them were. But were you sexually harassed?
It's extremely important that victims come forward and tell their stories and communicate their experiences. The downside, however, is that it can in some instances, make other victims feel like they're story isn't worthy of worrying about. That is not the intention of #metoo.
It's important to know what sexual harassment in the workplace is so that victims are aware that what they're going through shouldn't be diminished and that it needs to be handled accordingly.
Sexual harassment in the workplace (from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission):
- Any unwelcome sexual advances
- Requests for sexual favors
- Verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature
- Harassment based on a person's sex
According to the EEOC, the harasser and the victim can be different sexes or the same sex. The harasser can be a manager, supervisor, coworker, owner, client, or customer. One-off comments and instances, unless severe, are typically not enough. A one-off comment that is severe, or frequent harassment, that either creates a hostile work environment or it adversely affects an employment decision, is prohibited by law.
A victim can formally file a complaint with their company's human resources department. If the human resources department does not conduct a sufficient investigation into the matter, then the victim will want to seek outside counsel. Victims can consult with an experienced attorney.
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