Sexual harassment in the workplace is becoming more common. This is due to many things such as people have a greater understanding of what is right and wrong and people feeling more confident to speak up. Here is what you should know about sexual harassment.
What is Sexual Harassment?
The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advantages, requests for sexual favors and other unwanted verbal or physical contact” this includes those higher up in a company using sex as a way of being promoted. Anything from unwanted remarks, emails, constant flirting or touching is classed as sexual harassment and it should not be ignored. Sometimes there can be a genuine misunderstanding and somebody’s actions should change if you inform them they are making you uncomfortable. If this persists, report it to protect yourself and others.
Who Can Be Affected and How?
Anybody can be a victim of sexual harassment although most cases are women. This does not mean it doesn’t happen to men, although many are more worried of coming forward and feel a lot more embarrassed meaning the true amount of men to women suffering sexual harassment is hard to figure out. It can happen between employees or there may be a power imbalance in which some people take their managerial position to mean they can do anything- this is not the case and you should not be afraid to report them. You cannot get fired and if you are, this is an unjust reason to lose your job and you can sue. You can be affected in many ways from jokes being made about your sexuality, what you are wearing and even uniform policies can be a form of sexual harassment. Anything that makes you or others uncomfortable is a form of harassment, whether it be sexual or otherwise.
Who Should Help You?
If you or a colleague is being sexually harassed one of the most important things to do is write down every incident with a time and date and exactly what happens. If there was a witness, get them to do a statement, to back up your evidence. Many sufferers do not come forward for a variety of reasons such as being scared to lose their job or they think they won’t be believed. You may want to talk to your boss, if the perpetrator is your boss, you may wish to inform someone in a higher role. Speak to human resources and if you are part of a union, seek advice from them. You may want to get in touch with a trusted professional outside of the company such as a Boston sexual harassment lawyer.
If sexual harassment is affecting you, do not be afraid to speak up and have your voice heard. There may be others who are too afraid to speak out too, therefore you are protecting yourself and helping them find the courage to get help too. Talk to a trusted professional, sexual harassment is never ok.