For most female workers, sexual harassment and their paths will never cross. For some, however it is an all-too frequent reminder there is still a ways to go in society, relating to treating women with respect at work.
While sexual harassment cases against men on the job do occur, the abundance of cases involves female workers being the targeted victims.
Simply put, sexual harassment is defined as any unwelcome sexual advance or conduct at the workplace that leads to an intimidating, hostile, or offensive working environment.
According to information for the year 2010 from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), employers who were unable to protect themselves from sexual harassment claims filed with the agency recovered damages with settlements accumulating more than $48.4 million.
If youâre unsure exactly of what sexual harassment in the workplace constitutes, note that it can take on a number of different forms, including:
- Offensive and belittling comments directed oneâs way;
- Imagery around the office depicting women in offensive clothing or poses;
- Outright hostility from another co-worker just because one is female;
- An actual sexual assault on workplace property.
In the event you feel like youâve been the victim of sexual harassment in the workplace but did not react, there are several steps to take. They include:
- Deal one-on-one with the individual and tell them their actions are offensive and need to stop;
- Go to a manager and explain the situation, providing as much detail as possible to back up claims;
- Should the manager not be of assistance, go to his or her superior and continue on up until concerns are properly addressed;
- Donât fear for the loss of the job by reporting the alleged perpetrator. Everyone has protections in place regarding reporting such instances, although it is natural to wonder if it could lead to issues with job security;
- All along the way, be sure to document each and every inappropriate confrontation with the individual who has been the aggressor. This is critical so that it can demonstrated to a court that all efforts were made to stop these actions should the matter end up with a lawsuit;
- Should the higher-ups in the office not handle the matter, seek outside assistance from an agency set to deal with sexual harassment in the workplace.
At the end of the day, your employer is held responsible for the workplace actions of each and every worker under its employ.
To let sexual harassment actions go unpunished is not only a crime, but a slap in the face to the many hard-working women (and men in those cases who are harassed by women on the job) who simply want to show up day in and day out and do their jobs.
As a career woman, have you ever encountered sexual harassment along the way? If so, what did you do about it?
Photo credit: singlemindedwomen.com
Dave Thomas, who covers among other items business proposals and small business loans, writes extensively for Business.com, an online resource destination for businesses of all sizes to research, find, and compare the products and services they need to run their businesses.