Sexual harassment is something no one wants to deal with in the workplace. It is unlawful to harass a person because of their gender or sex. Interestingly, harassment doesn’t have to be physical. It can be verbal as well. On top of that, harassment doesn’t have to be particularly sexual at all. It might also include comments about a person’s sex, like harassing men or women by making broad, offensive comments about them.
Although women are often assumed to be the victims, men or women could be victimized by sexual harassment. Why, though, does it happen at all? Don’t most people understand that harassing others is wrong?
Sexual harassment is about power
Overall, sexual harassment is just another form of asserting control. Women are more likely to be victims because they tend to have less power than men, which makes them vulnerable. However, that’s not to say that a man could not be in a position where he’s vulnerable to the advances of male or female colleagues or superiors.
What does sexual harassment look like in the workplace?
Some common examples and forms of sexual harassment include:
- Making unwelcome sexual advances
- Requesting sexual favors
- Sexual assault
- Making the conditions of employment or advancement in the workplace reliant on sexual favors (this may be explicit or implicit)
- Discussing sexual stories, fantasies or relationships in an inappropriate location
- Exposure of oneself in a work environment
- Unwanted touching or physical contact
- Receiving unwanted emails, text messages or photos of an explicit nature
There are many other formsof sexual harassment as well.
Sexual harassment can occur in any workplace. It can happen after hours, in non-office settings between peers and in other situations. If you witness sexual harassment occurring, you can help stop it through an action known as bystander intervention. This is stepping in to assist someone who is potentially at risk due to the other party’s actions.
To do this, it’s best to create a distraction. For example, you could tell a boss that someone is looking for them to get them away from a fellow employee. Similarly, if you see harassment taking place, you could find an authority figure who would be in a position to put an end to it then and there.
If all else fails, you can enlist others to help. Your attorney, the authorities and other agencies have the power to intervene and help you get out of dangerous or uncomfortable situations.