The prevalence and severity of sexual harassment incidents in the workplace are at an alarming rate. Numerous employees, especially female workers, have experienced some form of harassment at least once in their professional life. Though there are many movements and laws that are now helping to protect employees from sexual harassment, it continues to be a problem in the workplace.
Sexual harassment can happen anytime and anywhere. Both men and women can experience it and have negative effects on their professional or personal life. It is essential to recognize the common scenarios that allow forms of sexual harassment to play out in order to fight them.
Common Sexual Harassment Scenarios
A female receptionist gets flirted with by the local delivery driver who visits the office every other day. She simply does her job by receiving and signing the deliveries, but the driver keeps asking her out. The receptionist respectfully declines and says to the driver that she is not interested. The driver is persistent and proceeds to visit her, bringing her gifts and flowers, but the receptionist remains uninterested.
Based on this scenario, the receptionist has verbally stated that she is uninterested. The advances done by the driver can be considered as sexual harassment if she reports this incident to the human resources department or her supervisor. The HR or her superior can speak with the driver and explain that his advances were unwelcome and made the receptionist uncomfortable. The driver can also save his job by stopping his advances to avoid getting reported to his employer.
You may have a team of unruly employees in your business that often make crude or inappropriate comments and jokes that can be heard by other employees. Some employees may feel uncomfortable and shaken by the behavior, especially when the comments become quite graphic or outright inappropriate.
This kind of scenario is an example of a hostile working environment. Though the jibes and jokes may not be directed to other workers, it creates an uncomfortable workplace for others, and by letting this slide, you set up your business for a lawsuit. The best thing to do is to talk to your employees about their behavior or start an individual or group session regarding their discipline in the workplace. Explain the consequences of insubordination and persistence of such conduct.
A supervisor starts to develop feelings for a subordinate. This person of authority suggests a relationship and promises benefits at work, such as bonuses and promotions. The employee being courted is not interested but gets worried that his or her chances of getting a promotion are over if he or she refuses to reciprocate the same feelings with his or her superior.
This type of harassment is considered as quid pro quo. This one of the two main types of sexual harassment, which involves an employer asking for unwanted favors from a subordinate as conditions for a promotion or job benefit. Know that quid pro quo is a severe legal offense and should be reported immediately. If this happens to you, you can file a lawsuit.
Your co-worker checks his personal email at work. He occasionally opens his mail and looks at pornographic images. Not everyone notices but those who do don’t complain. You see him do this regularly and begin to make you feel uncomfortable whenever it occurs.
When it comes to situations like these, it’s better to advise the person to refrain from looking at the inappropriate pictures while at work. Pornography at work is never a good idea since you wouldn’t want any of those images on your network. Someone is bound to get offended and escalate it to the HR department. Also, this establishes proof that the person views those images while working.
The EEOC Sexual Harassment Definition
It is vital to know how the law defines sexual harassment. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) defines it as unwelcome advances and requests for sexually-charged favors. It could also mean inappropriate or offensive remarks about a person’s sex. Harassment occurs when such acts also create a hostile working environment or affect the victim’s position of the job.
How to Report Sexual Harassment in the Workplace
Let the harasser know that he or she is creating a hostile working environment for you.
Write down the events and secure copies of them for reporting and evidence.
Notify and write to your supervisor or HR department about the incident.
When it comes to reporting sexual harassment incidents, the process depends on the policies of your company. Escalate the issue properly by doing the steps mentioned above. Once you have done everything you can, the final step to take is to seek proper legal assistance from an experienced sexual harassment attorney.
Find an Experienced Sexual Harassment Attorney in Los Angeles
Your best option for combating sexual harassment incidents in the workplace is to hire a seasoned sexual harassment attorney in Los Angeles to help you forward your claims. Your harasser may get the upper hand as he or she can hire defense lawyers to protect him or her from liabilities, denying your claims in the process. Having an experienced legal professional by your side can help assure you that the situation will be handled properly with you getting the maximum compensation.