The #metoo movement and Harvey Weinstein case have highlighted the issue of sexual harassment in organizations. This led to tighter procedures to protect employees and businesses.
Workplace sexual harassment can take various forms. These forms include unwanted touching, inappropriate comments, and promotions in exchange for sexual favors.
Moreover, it can involve teasing, intimidating, or offensive comments based on stereotypes or bullying based on sex, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Sometimes, sexual harassment is about sex and something else, like race or ethnicity.
For example, a woman of color may experience harassment differently from a white female co-worker due to the combination of her sex and race or ethnicity.
Companies can develop solutions to combat sexual harassment in the workplace by addressing the issue.
Understanding Sexual Harassment In Workspace
To fight or raise your voice against sexual harassment, it is important to first recognize the act. Therefore, here are some situations that can help you recognize when someone violates you or your colleagues sexually at a workpalce.
Sexual harassment involves the following situations:
- Unwanted requests for sexual favors or dates.
- Inappropriate comments about body or appearance.
- Negative comments about gender or sexual orientation.
- Using gender-based slurs.
- Making explicit jokes about sex or sexual acts.
Moreover, activities like the following are often dismissed but also fall under the category of sexual harassment:
- Sending or sharing sexual messages.
- Gossiping about personal relationships.
- Unwanted touching of body parts.
- Staring, leering, or blocking movement.
- Displaying or sharing vulgar pictures or pornography.
Therefore, sexual harassment is defined by the person being harassed, not their perception of the behavior.
Organizations can consider it harassment if the behavior is offensive to the victim. It can occur even if the person doesn’t immediately stop or say “stop.”
It can also occur when the person is unaware of the situation. If the harasser is a supervisor or someone with more power, the fear of speaking up or saying “no” may prevent the harassment.
Policies For Sexual Harassment In Workspace
Employers, housing providers, educators, and other responsible parties can promote a harassment-free environment. It can help you create a clear and comprehensive anti-sexual harassment policy.
This policy will alert all parties to their rights, roles, and responsibilities in cases of alleged sexual harassment. Policies must clearly outline how to handle sexual harassment promptly and efficiently.
Everyone should know an anti-sexual harassment policy and the steps for resolving complaints.
This can be done by introducing policies to everyone, including them in orientation materials, training people, and providing ongoing education on human rights issues.
An effective sexual harassment policy can minimize harm, reduce liability, promote equity and diversity, and make business sense.
It should include procedures for dealing with third-party harassment, demonstrating expected responses, bringing serious issues to management, and taking remedial action.
Complaints should be taken seriously, promptly addressed, and not subjected to discipline or reprisal.
Regular monitoring of environments is crucial to prevent sexual harassment from recurring and maintain a safe work environment.
The Employer’s Duty
Employers are obligated to create a safe work environment and prevent sexual harassment.
If they discover such harassment, they must take immediate action, considering disciplinary action and further prevention measures like training or education.
Under section 46.3 of the Code, vicarious liability holds an employer responsible for discrimination committed by employees or agents in their employment.
This liability applies regardless of whether the employer knew of, participated in, or controlled these actions.
Vicarious liability does not apply to harassment breaches but is used when harassment leads to a poisoned environment.
The “organic theory of corporate liability” allows organizations to be liable for harassment acts if they can prove awareness or the harasser was part of the organization’s management or “directing mind.”
This applies when employees engage in inappropriate behavior that violates the Code or does not respond adequately.
Managers, central decision-makers, supervisory authority-seeking individuals, and non-supervisors may be considered part of the “directing mind.”
Role Of An Employment Lawyer
An experienced employment lawyer can help individuals by following the Employment law. They assist and help in the following situations:
- Identify if harassment is considered sexual harassment.
- Respond to the harasser.
- Report the harassment.
- Take the next steps to protect individuals against future harassment.
Moreover, they can outline the description of the harassing conduct, providing clear information for HR or managers.
An employment lawyer can also advise on other steps to protect oneself. They can help you document the harassment and discuss it with the employer.
Additionally, they help you prepare to deal with the harasser if the harassment persists and report future harassment to the employer. They can help you monitor the employer’s response to the complaint to prevent retaliation.
Despite the emotional exhaustion and confusion, an employment lawyer can provide valuable guidance in determining the appropriate steps to take.
By understanding one’s circumstances and addressing any concerns, individuals can better protect their rights and avoid retaliation from their employers.
What Are The Consequences Of Sexual Harassment?
When it comes to sexual harassment, victims are often left feeling emotionally traumatized and distressed. This can be a major barrier for them in communicating with their employers about the harassment they have experienced.
In such situations, seeking legal representation from an experienced sexual harassment lawyer can be a viable solution.
It is important to note that most sexual harassment cases result in significant emotional distress, which can have a profound impact on the victim’s physical and mental well-being.
That’s why victims must prioritize their well-being and seek legal representation instead of relying solely on their employer to address the issue.
Fight For Yourself!
The most important part of fighting sexual harassment is fighting for yourself.
With the support of an employment lawyer, the HR department of the company and your well-wishers, you can come out of the situation leaving behind your traumas.
However, the most important factor for any sexual harassment is finding the courage to say “NO.”
You need to recognize the act, and then raise your voice against it.
Moreover, always remember, that accusing someone of this act has great consequences. Therefore, be sure of your act and refrain from using the anti-sexual harassment policies of your organization to fulfill personal grudges.
Stay safe and ensure the safety of everyone working with you!