By its very definition, sexual harassment entails behavior that has sexual content or sexual connotation. Some examples are unwelcome physical touches, making sexual comments to an individual, displaying sexually explicit images on a computer screen or telling jokes with sexual content at work. Harassment is considered illegal when it’s so recurrent or persistent that it produces an offensive or hostile work environment or when it has consequences such as the victim being fired or demoted. The harasser might be the victim’s manager, a supervisor from another area, a coworker, or someone who is not an employee of the company, but might be a client, vendor or supplier.
What Are The Most Common Complaints When It Comes To Sexual Harassment In The Workplace?
Sexual harassment can take many forms. Typical complaints of this type of behavior, among many others, include:
- Personal harassment – also described as bullying, this type of behavior may include insults, unwanted remarks, and derogatory comments.
- Psychological harassment – In these cases, victims are subjected to endless condescending remarks, are often put down or belittled.
- Physical harassment – including threats, any form of violence such as pushing or punching. It may affect a person or personal property.
- Discriminatory harassment – in this case, an individual’s age, sex, or race becomes the subject of intimidating or offensive remarks.
- Sexual harassment – also known as quid pro quo, in these cases the perpetrator behaves in a sexual way towards the victim who is evidently uncomfortable and doesn’t appreciate this type of attention.
What Can A Company Do To Prevent Or Stop Harassment?
These steps should be taken to avoid or deal with harassment in the workplace:
- Train your employees. Make your staff aware of what harassment is, how to spot it, and how to report it.
- Implement an internal complaint system, acknowledging an employee’s right to privacy, security, and anonymity. If employees don’t fear any potential backlash, they’ll be more open to coming forward.
- Implement or update your code of conduct. Make your employees aware of its existence and of the fact that it will be enforced.
What Can You Do If You Are Experiencing Sexual Harassment In Your Workplace?
First of all, don’t be concerned about the other party, and whether they may think that what they are doing is harassment or not. It’s not up to them to decide that. Also, don’t worry if the harassment has been ongoing for some time and you are just now finding the courage to report it.
It’s understandable that if the harasser is someone who has more power or seniority than you, you might be afraid of speaking up because it might impact your job. However, the first step to ending this situation could start with a simple request for them to stop. This may make the harasser aware that they are stepping over a line. If that has no effect, you should use your company’s channels to report them.
Write down the details of what has been happening, including dates, places, and any witnesses. Your employer should address your complaint professionally and take quick action to investigate your claim.
Any company must play its part to maintain a safe working environment. It is important for employers to diffuse any situation before it gets out of hand.
If you are still being harassed, go to HR, inform your supervisor or manager. You may consider consulting a Sexual Harassment Lawyer in Los Angeles, like the Spivak Law Firm, at this point to determine whether you have a legal claim.