Harassment of all different types occurs in the workplace, and sexual harassment is a common one. There are many actions and signs that indicate sexual harassment is happening, and the harasser’s behavior is often subtle.
If you feel you are a victim of sexual harassment, it is important to take action, both for yourself and for other potential victims.
What constitutes sexual harassment
According to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, sexual harassment refers to harassment that focuses on another person’s gender. Although asking for sexual favors, making intimate advances and looking at porn on the computer during work hours all fall into the category of sexual harassment, they are not the only ones. Even making offensive comments or jokes about the other gender constitutes sexual harassment.
For it to be sexual harassment, the words or actions must be offensive towards the victim or anyone else in the vicinity. It must also create a hostile work environment or cause the victim to quit or change departments. Isolated incidents and infrequent simple teasing generally do not constitute sexual harassment.
How to report harassment
According to Business News Daily, both men and women can be victims of sexual harassment. Even though there often is not direct evidence of sexual harassment, victims should report the behavior. Unless your immediate supervisor is the harasser, this is often a good place to start. If there is a human resource department at your company, you can also file a complaint there. Many companies have a policy on how to report harassment, so follow these instructions if they are available. If you do have any evidence, such as emails or text messages, include them with the report.
If you feel that no one is being cooperative or taking your complaint seriously, you can reach out to the EEOC. Along with stopping the harasser’s behavior, reporting it is beneficial because there may be other victims who have come forward or will come forward in the future.