Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Sexual harassment is any type of behavior which is sexual and unwanted or unwarranted. It is completely inappropriate and is considered a detrimental behavior which leads the victim to feel demoralized and violated. It can be a mild transgression to a severe sexual assault. Sexual harassment can be physical, emotional, textual or verbal.
What is sexual harassment at work?
To be counted as sexual harassment, any coercive sexual encounter even f it happens once can be harassment. When a person undertakes a predatory behavior and sexually harass a co-worker at the office or workplace, at any work-related event, even if it happens outside the office. Or it can happen between two co-workers irrespective of the place where it happens. Harassment can be severe or pervasive. A severe case may only happen once, but for a pervasive case, it can be an occurrence over time.
Sexual harassment may even affect your working condition. It means that you may lose employment status or a promotion due to reporting or avoiding unwarranted sexual advances by an employee at your workplace.
Who can it happen to?
Though sexual harassment happens to men and women, it has still been noted that sexual harassment happens t more women than men all across the globe.
Bring harassment to notice
It didn't matter when the harassment had occurred; sometimes a victim may need more time to come to terms with sexual harassment thus may report the incident after a while. It is up to the management or the manager concerned to respond appropriately. Once such an allegation is brought, the manager should always stay impartial and respect both the parties. The allegations need to be verified irrespective of any time gap.
Sexual harassment is a punishable offense in the eyes of the law. It comes under the scope of equal opportunity of employment. Depending on the nature and severity of the incidence, the management should file necessary reports to the police. Proper investigations are very much required to be conducted. Certain acts of sexual harassment may even come under the scope of criminal law. Indecent exposure, obscene communications, sexual assault, and stalking come under sexual harassment.
Since sexual harassment happens under circumstances which are directly or indirectly related to work, employers are vicariously held responsible for sexual harassment by any employee. Direct employment is not required by the employee suffering from sexual harassment to seek protection and coverage under the law.
Even if the employee is a temporary worker and the workplace is also a makeshift one, the employee is protected by the law. All sorts of workers are covered by the law to get protection from sexual harassment. The law also extends similar rights to protect volunteers and unpaid workers who do not have employment status; they are also protected by the law.
A person who reports a sexual harassment case is protected under the law and will not be discriminated against or suffer from any kind of unlawful retaliation due to reporting sexual harassment.
Sexual harassment can be a menacing and traumatizing experience for any employee. Certain employees simply do not report as they are in a state of shock and disbelief or simply because they are distraught. Some employees feel ashamed and also feel fearful that they may lose their job if a complaint is made. A safe environment should be built at the workplace to ensure that the employees do not undertake any such predatory behavior. For any victim, an assurance from a management team that they will not take such behavior lightly will certainly help. They will feel more comfortable with reporting such incidents.