Sexual Harassment in the Workplace: It's Not Always What You Think
There is much more to sexual harassment then a male boss harassing a subordinate female employee. Sexual Harassment can come in many forms that we don't usually associate with the word. Companies need to be aware of every different form sexual harassment can take.
Sexual Harassment in the workplace comes in many forms. Most of us are familiar with the most famous form of sexual harassment - the male boss harassing a female subordinate and trading work privileges for sexual favors, however there are many other behaviors that constitute sexual harassment.
The victim does not have to be the same sex as the perpetrator. Harassment can occur with a man harassing a woman, a woman harassing a man or both parties can be of the same gender. Harassment occurs when one of the parties is receiving unwanted sexual attention and the gender of the parties is not relevant.
The perpetrator does not have to be part of the same company as the victim. Any party acting as an agent of the employer such as a real estate agent or consultant can be a perpetrator in a harassment claim. In addition, a harasser could be a delivery person from another company. The company who sent the delivery person could be held accountable for the harassment. Likewise a delivery person could sue for sexual harassment from the actions of one of the companies he delivered to.
The victim of harassment does not have to be the one who was actually harassed. Behaviors such as dirty jokes or lewd activities can create a hostile work environment and cause a harassment claim from a bystander.
The victim does not have to suffer economic or job related injury to file a harassment claim. Hostile work environment harassment is harassment that typically must be intentional, severe, recurring and pervasive, and interfere with an employee's ability to perform his or her job.
Lastly, the harassment must be unwanted in order to be considered unlawful. If an employee welcomes and enjoys the attention and does not tell the perpetrator that they do not want the attention, then the actions are not unlawful in most cases.
Sexual harassment is a complex issue that comes in many forms. It is of up most importance that every organization seek legal counsel and train thoroughly on the topic. This type of training helps protect employers in the instance of a lawsuit.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Charlie Bentson King is a writer and producer of training videos for TrainingABC.