Learning the Facts about Sexual Harassment
Most people have heard of sexual harassment, but many don’t know the facts and specifics of what sexual harassment is and what they should do if they see it happening in their workplace. Sexual harassment is a form of sex discrimination that is illegal and against the law. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 specifically outlines how sexual harassment is against the law. The law protects applies to employers with 15 or more employees, which includes governments at the local and state levels.
Unwanted sexual advances This could be a man or a woman flirting excessively with another man or woman, or making any other sexual advances that are not returned. If they are requesting sexual favors, this is also considered sexual harassment. Any sexual action is considered sexual harassment in the workplace when it interferes with an individual’s ability to work peacefully and normally. It is also sexual harassment when a person finds that they are working in an offensive or hostile environment. There are several key things to know about sexual harassment that are often misunderstood. One of the most commonly misunderstood things is that the harasser and the victim do not have to be of the opposite sex. Sometimes a man will harass a man, or a woman will harass another woman. It is important to not turn a blind eye to sexual harassment occurring just because it is not occurring in the usual and expected fashion. The harasser also does not have to be just another co-worker working alongside the victim. The harasser could be the victim’s manager, supervisor, or even a non-employee. It is also important to realize and understand that the victim does not have to only be the person directly affected by the harasser’s actions. Victims are any persons who are negatively affected by the harasser’s behavior. This could include people sitting around the harasser or victim when the sexual harassment is occurring. If any bystanders feel uncomfortable and feel that they are in a hostile environment, they are victims of sexual harassment as well.
Attention welcome or not welcome? Another important point to remember is that it can only be constituted as sexual harassment when the victim does not welcome the attention. If they are welcoming to it, then it is not considered sexual harassment. When the victim realizes he or she is being sexually harassed, they should try to contact the harasser and tell them that the contact is unwanted and needs to stop. They should do this in a public area where there are a lot of people. Doing this in this kind of well-lit area will make it so the harasser does not act out irrationally and do something inappropriate. Employees of every company should be given sexual harassment training where they learn how to prevent sexual harassment and what to do if they see it happening in their workplace. Sexual harassment training is a critical part of every workplace and it should not be taken lightly. Photo Credit: The intrepid traveler, Artlung