Sexual Harassment Has No Place in the Office, But Most Importantly, Has No Place At All

Sexual Harassment Has No Place in the Office, But Most Importantly, Has No Place At All

Most everyone is likely aware of the headlines in the news as of late regarding U.S. film producer, Harvey Weinstein, and his unwarranted sexual advances and harassment toward a countless number of women. This isn’t the only instance within the Hollywood industry, or within the world, or even among just women.

Sexual harassment has no place to be taken lightly. A recent study found that 1 in 3 women between the ages of 18-34 have been sexually harassed at work. And in 2013, a study found that over 17% of the EEOC sexual harassment charges filed were filed by men. You need to be aware of what constitutes as sexual harassment, how to report it, and how to be an ally when witnessing it.

What is sexual harassment?

Per the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), “It is unlawful to harass a person because of that person’s sex. Harassment can include ‘sexual harassment’ or unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.”

To better understand and identify acts of sexual harassment, here are some examples:

  • Sharing sexually inappropriate images or videos, such as pornography, with co-workers
  • Sending suggestive letters, notes, or e-mails
  • Displaying inappropriate sexual images or posters in the workplace
  • Telling lewd jokes, or sharing sexual anecdotes
  • Making inappropriate sexual gestures
  • Staring in a sexually suggestive or offensive manner, or whistling
  • Making sexual comments about appearance, clothing, or body parts
  • Inappropriate touching, including pinching, patting, rubbing, or purposefully brushing up against another person
  • Asking sexual questions, such as questions about someone’s sexual history or their sexual orientation
  • Making offensive comments about someone’s sexual orientation or gender identity

The list could go on and on, but these are some top examples of sexual harassment. But it should be known that any sexual action that creates a hostile work environment is considered sexual harassment. The victim may not be just the target of the offense, but anyone who is affected by the inappropriate behavior.

What to do if sexually harassed?

If you feel like you’ve been sexually harassed, first report it to your Human Resources department. Take detailed notes of the date(s), time(s), and nature of the incident(s). Your employer should then intercept and remedy the situation, but should that fail and if the employee continues to persist with their inappropriate behavior, then a claim should be made with the EEOC. You must file your claim with the EEOC within 180 days of the incident by mail, in person, or by calling 1-800-669-4000.

If you see something, say something – to the victim.

It’s probably been ingrained in your brain that if you see something, then you need to say something. Which, that’s absolutely correct, but in sexual harassment incidences, talking to the victim is key. They’re the one that has been sexually harassed, they’re the one dealing with the emotions of what happened, and they’re the one that needs to bring light to the situation.

Sexual harassment is not be downplayed or minimized, so if you see something, say something to the victim. Show support, create a safe environment, lend an ear, and just be there. Encourage them to go to their supervisor to report the sexual harassment so these lewd acts can be stopped for not only that victim, but anyone else that may have been affected.

Speak up and speak out.

The Daily Dot | How to be a good workplace ally when you see sexual harassment
Atlantic | Stats Say THIS Is Still Too Common in the Workplace
Psychology Today | When Men Face Sexual Harassment
The Balance | Examples of Sexual and Non-Sexual Harassment
EEOC | How to File a Charge of Employment Discrimination

Photo Credit: | Jad Limcaco

For more information contact The information contained in this post, and any attachments, is not intended and should not be misconstrued as legal advice. You should contact your employment, benefits or ERISA attorney for legal direction.