Sexual harassment in the workplace is far too prevalent. This is a situation no one would like to be in and it can affect anybody. The EEOC definition of sexual harassment as “unwelcome sexual advances, requests for sexual favors, and other verbal or physical harassment of a sexual nature.” It’s important to know that harassment does not have to be sexual in nature. One of the main forms of sexual harassment is making a hostile work environment.
What is Hostile Work Environment?
A hostile work environment is when anyone in the organization (superior or not) brings unwelcome conduct, making the victim feel uncomfortable. Their behavior is seen as intimidating, hostile, or offensive. Many people don’t know that this harassment doesn’t have to include threatening the individual with firing them nor does it have to be specifically targeted to that individual. For example, someone in the workplace posts a woman in a swimsuit in their cubicle. Someone could find it offensive even though it isn’t targeted towards them. It is considered as making a hostile work environment.
Common Myths about Sexual Harassment
Many people may think that the harasser has to try to intentionally harm the victim. A person may be ignorant about their behavior and it can still be considered sexual harassment. An example of this would be an employee asking another coworker on a date. It is still considered sexual harassment even if they meant no harm. As mentioned previously, the victim doesn’t have been directly harassed. Another example of this would be if a coworker makes a joke to his other coworker saying that women are bad drivers. If another person hears this joke and finds it offensive, then it is still considered sexual harassment even though they weren’t in the conversation and it wasn’t directed to them.
Employers Duty in Sexual Harassment
Employers must provide a safe work environment for all of their workers. They must have policies and procedures to prevent sexual harassment in the first place. It’s the employer’s job to always enforce these policies and employers must inform their employees of these policies. This could be a bulletin they put up in the employee break room. They must have clear reporting procedures for if an employee feels they have encountered sexual harassment in the workplace. This could be a step-by-step process they need to take.
Anybody and everybody in the workplace must be trained on how to recognize sexual harassment and what you should do if you see or encounter it. If someone in the workplace feels they have been sexually harassed, it’s the employer’s duty to evaluate the situation. They must take action to make sure it doesn’t happen again and these actions cannot have an adverse impact on the victim. For example, they couldn’t move the victim to a different department if it meant they had to take less pay.
Encountering sexual harassment is very overwhelming and scary. It’s important to know that you are not alone and you don’t have to be silent about it. You deserve a say and you deserve to feel safe. If you feel your company didn’t do everything they could to remedy the situation, then you may need to speak with a sexual harassment attorney. When dealing with this delicate subject matter, you want someone who is experienced. Rager & Yoon – Employment Lawyers has years of experience in sexual harassment and will fight for your rights. Contact them for a free initial consultation at 310-527-6994 or fill out this contact form.
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