Sexual Harassment in the Workplace and What to Do About It

Sexual harassment statistics show that 69% of sexually harassed women have been subjected to this unpleasant experience in the workplace. It’s even more concerning that this may only be the tip of the iceberg.

Unfortunately, 99.8% of victims harassed at work never report the matter. In many instances, this is because they don’t know what to do and whether anyone will believe them. In some cases, employees keep quiet because the abuser is their direct supervisor and is threatening their career.

Whatever the reason for the silence, it’s time for it to stop. With that in mind, we’ll go through the steps to take if you’re a victim of sexual harassment in the workplace.

What Constitutes Sexual Harassment at Work?

Harassment is loosely defined as any comment, contact, gesture, or conduct, sexual in nature, that may offend or humiliate an employee.

Examples include:

·         Requiring sex to promote or grant another employee a benefit

·         Asking an employee out on a date repeatedly and not caring if they say no

·         Requesting hugs or other forms of unnecessary physical contact

·         Insults or vulgarity 

·         Sexual innuendos and jokes

·         Bragging about prowess in the bedroom or spreading gossip about someone having sex

·         Posting sexually explicit images

When Does Harassment Turn Into Assault?

When the attacker touches the victim in a sexually inappropriate way or forces them to have sex, they may be charged with assault.

What to Do About It?

Speak to the Harasser

Start by telling the person that their behavior is unacceptable and that you’d like it to stop. It’s possible that they don’t realize that they are making someone feel uncomfortable or unsafe, and this will give them a chance to straighten up their act.

Report the Offence

If they persist despite the confrontation, take notes of any incidents and inform them you’ll report them.

Make a list of the behavior, the dates, times, and, if applicable, witnesses. Report the matter to human resources at the company. They must protect employees from harassment and should guide you through the next steps.

If the Company Takes No Action

The firm must ensure that the working environment is comfortable and safe. Companies that fail to stop a sexual predator or don’t take sexual harassment seriously may land up in trouble with the Canadian Human Rights Commission. 

If you feel that the firm is protecting the predator, report them to the HRC or the equivalent in your country. If it’s a case of sexual assault, report the matter to the police.

What Happens Next?

That depends on the nature of the offense. The perpetrator may be fired and may also face criminal charges. If the company is found negligent in preventing the abuse, they may be fined or required to pay the employee compensatory damages.

The company might be required to run sexual sensitivity training to prevent a repeat of this incident.

Final Notes

It’s disappointing that sexual harassment is still a factor in our so-called enlightened society. However, if we work together, we may stamp it out completely. 

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