Since the Civil Rights Act of 1964, sexual harassment has been prohibited in the workplace. Unfortunately, even though claims have declined over the years, sexual harassment is still present in certain work environments, and it is a big concern for employers. All members of the company should be aware of how to identify sexual harassment, how to file a claim, and how it can be prevented.
How to Identify Sexual Harassment
Because sexual harassment can take a number of different forms, it can sometimes be missed or misunderstood for something else. It is important to be able to identify when harassment is occurring, because it can be very traumatizing and stressful for the employee or employer who is being harassed.
Unwanted sexual approaches, offensive sexual language, and verbal and physical actions of a sexual nature are usually considered to be sexual harassment, depending on the circumstances. A claim may be warranted if the victim’s employment is effected by rejecting or accepting the sexual behavior. A claim may also be valid if the behavior creates a hostile work environment.
Important Facts About Sexual Harassment
- You can be a victim even if the sexual harassment wasn’t directly intended towards you.
- A harasser can be a colleague, a boss, a manager, contractor, or even a non-employee.
- Sexual harassment doesn’t take gender into account, either for the victim or the harasser.
- The offending sexual conduct should not be welcomed or encouraged by anyone.
- A legally protected class needs to be the target in order for offensive behavior to be considered illegal.
- The harassment may be unlawful even without the expulsion of the victim or economic damage.
How to Deal With Sexual Harassment
If someone has been faced with sexual harassment in their place of work, there are a number of steps that an individual should take. If possible, it is sometimes best to deal with the harasser directly by stating politely that the behavior is offensive and it needs to stop right away. Often this will stop the harassment without needing to take any further action, as the source may not realize that what they are doing or saying is unwelcome.If the harasser does not stop, or he or she is a direct superior and the victim does not feel comfortable approaching them, the company may have a sexual harassment reporting process. There is sometimes a system set up that gives clear directions about how to proceed and who to contact. One can also get in touch with the boss of the harasser or someone in the human resources department. A victim should also consider filing a charge and reporting the conduct with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or a local agency. If one finds that they are encountering pushback from the employer, it may also be a good idea to contact an attorney who specializes in employment discrimination to make sure that rights are protected.
Prevent Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
The best way to get rid of sexual harassment in the workplace is prevention. As an employer, it makes sense to keep harassment out of your organization, as it results in lawsuits, decreased productivity, and bad employee morale. The following are just some of the ways that harassment can be avoided.
- Implement a sexual harassment policy and include it in your employee handbook. The policy should define harassment, state a no tolerance rule, and set out procedures for filing, investigating, and disciplining sexual harassment complaints.
- Train managers so they understand how to deal with complaints.
- Have employee training sessions that go over all details of the policy.
- Keep an eye on the workplace and keep an open communication among you, employees, and supervisors.
- Treat all complaints seriously. Investigate immediately and respond swiftly to all valid complaints.
You have the right to be protected in the workplace. Knowing your rights and ways to prevent or stop unwanted advances is the first step.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.