Everyone has the right to have a safe work environment. Regardless of whatever designation you are working in whichever company, getting harassed is not what one deserves.
And when the harassment is in the form of sexual harassment at the workplace, it should be stopped immediately.
Sexual harassment is frequently viewed by many as a nuisance which is not necessarily harmful, but this is far from reality. Sexual misconduct that is inappropriate at work can have grave consequences and cause physical harm to those impacted by the behaviour. In most cases, sexual harassment doesn’t cause direct bodily injury to the victim. However, this does not mean the victim doesn’t face any damages.
One of the most frequently occurring results of sexual harassment in the workplace is a hostile working environment that could affect an employee’s performance or even result in someone being unable to remain on the job. It can result in financial losses in lost wages and career opportunities, which can add up to quite a lot.
Additionally, there are the non-economic, intangible damages the victim suffers due to sexual harassment at workplace. Being in a place that does not make one feel secure can be highly stressful, and often it is necessary to endure harassers for prolonged periods, which causes a person to be exhausted psychologically. In the most extreme instances of sexual harassment at the workplace, there is a risk of assault, and even in less threatening situations, trauma can lead to the formation of psychological disorders like PTSD or depression.
But What Is Sexual Harassment?
If you are still confused about sexual harassment, let me elaborate. Sexual harassment is an unwelcome sexual advance whether verbal or physical asking for sexual favors without consent.
For a situation to be classified as the case of sexual harassment, there needs to be reasonable to assume that there is a chance that the victim is offended, humiliated or even intimidated by the behavior. So, whether a behavior constitutes sexual harassment is dependent on the way a reasonable person will consider the behavior in that scenario. Sexual harassment in one circumstance could not be the same in a different context.
The person may also be harassed sexually through exposure by or witnessing this type of behavior. As an example, listening to conversations or seeing posters that are sexually explicit at work.
Sexual harassment examples could include:
- Unintentional physical contact, like unwanted touching
- Leering or staring
- an enigmatic comment or joke
- an explicit image or poster
- Unwanted invitation to meet for a date
- an application for sexual sex
- uninhibited questioning of the private life of a person or body
- unneeded familiarity, for example, intentionally rubbing up against someone
- An insult or taunt of sexual nature
- Sexually explicit emails or text message that is sexually explicit.
So, What To Do If You Are Sexually Harassed At Your Workplace?
Here are some things that you need to do when facing sexual harassment at workplace.
- Tell the victim to put down their phone. If you don’t feel at ease or secure doing this, try your best to make clear to the person harassing you that the inappropriate behavior is not appreciated.
- Inform the management of the company and request that something be put in place to stop the harassment. The harassment should be reported to someone with the power to make decisions.
- If your workplace has sexual harassment complaints procedures, you must follow the guidelines. It is best to put your complaints in writing. If you are able, have a trusted person present when you submit your complaint. Make sure you have evidence that proves that the employer received your complaint as well as when and on what date that the complaint was filed (for instance, you can request your employer to confirm in writing that they have received the complaint). Keep a copy of the complaint. Most of the time when an employer will be held liable under the laws against discrimination the employer has to be informed of the harassment and be given the opportunity to deal with the issue.
- Assist the employer in the investigation regarding your complaints. Make use of any prevention or corrective options provided by the company.