Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 prohibits discrimination based on sex (including sexual orientation, pregnancy, and gender identity). Between the fiscal years 2018 and 2021, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) received an alarming 98,000(+) charges alleging harassment. The influx of harassment cases in 2018 and 2019 was likely a product of the viral #MeToo movement, which provided people comfort in unveiling their encounter. Though reported cases continue to descend, the question of why remains. Is it due to a decline in harassment in the workplace? Or is shame, once again, causing silence? Regardless, we need to maximize efforts in driving sexual harassment to a halt.
What is sexual harassment?
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when hearing the term, sexual harassment? For some, it may be a passing comment, or perhaps someone (managers and coworkers alike) who glances in your direction for a moment too long. Others believe it to be as severe as making unwelcome advances behind closed doors. The truth is, sexual harassment encompasses everything from a remark regarding one’s appearance, to using your superiority as leverage in the demand for sexual favors. Though the law does not prohibit facetious comments or simple teasing, harassment is illegal when creates a hostile work environment. Nobody Is exempt from experiencing sexual harassment as it knows no bias regarding gender, ethnicity, or company hierarchy. Whether you are male or female, an intern, or a VP, you could fall victim, and the only way to disarm the offender is to report the incident.
What if I witness sexual harassment in my workplace?
You’ve likely heard the phrase, “If you see something, say something.” This doesn’t just apply to high school bullies. It applies to adult bullies too. The best thing to do if you witness sexual harassment is to report it to HR or management depending on the structure of your company or the severity of the offense. If the person performing the harassment is a manager, you can report the incident here. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) enforces federal laws that make it illegal to discriminate against a job applicant or, in this case, employee, based on the person’s race, religion, sex, age, or disability. This applies to all situations regarding promotions, harassment, wages, etc. in the workplace.
How do I prevent sexual harassment?
There are steps you can take to keep sexual harassment at bay in your workplace. Start by defining exactly what it is. More importantly, it should be made crystal clear that it will not be tolerated, and action will be taken upon occurrence. That being said, if an instance of sexual harassment is brought to your attention be sure to keep that energy. Proper repercussions should be taken to hopefully dissuade future occurrences. Sexual harassment training should be provided annually to employees of all levels. Keep the training upbeat. Nobody likes to have the gauntlet brought down on them so keep it positive and informative. Stopping sexual harassment is a team effort and is in the hands of employees just as much as management.
If you feel you need a change of work environment, or if you are looking to fill a newly available position, please give us a call at (518) 275-4816 where we strive to place qualified candidates in their perfect role!
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