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Recognizing Sexual Harassment In The Workplace

Aug 17, 2007
Sexual harassment is a sexual advance, whether pysical or verbal. These all become harassment when rejection or submission to such advances affect the employment of an individual, or if it affects the performance at work of a person. This means even jokes can count as harassment. There are many instances where sexual harassment occurs. The following are some of the examples of it, however keep in mind that they are not limited only to the following:

1. Man or woman sexual harasser

Keep in mind that the victim doesn't have to be a woman - it could bee a man. Harassment includes both physical or verbal conduct or advances. This conduct is just as common for both sexes, only men report it less to the police.

2. It's all about control

Keep in mind that the one who is doing the harassing may be the supervisor of the victim, it could be the victims boss, the agent of the employer, a fellow worker, or someone who is not an employee. What sexual harassment is, it is a need for control. And anyone who has a need for this and gets it via being sexually aggressive could be constituted as a harasser.

3. The victim could be you

Also, a victim of sexual harassment need not be the particular person who is harassed. A sexual harassment victim could just be anyone who is affected by any conduct that is offensive. What is important is that the actions and overall conduct of the harasser is completely unwelcome.

It is also extremely important and helpful for any victim of sexual harassment to inform directly the perceived harasser if their conduct is offensive or completely unwelcome, and so therefore must be stopped. As much as possible, the victim should make use of any mechanisms available in the system, such as a grievance complaint perhaps.

4. Intimidation and hostility

These are the feelings or overall vibe of a workplace when there exists an environment where sexual harassment is present. Fortunately, the Supreme Court of the United States have made employers liable for any sexual harassment that occurs within their own local workplaces. This applies even if the employer was himself not aware of any harassment that occurs. This is simply because it is one of the employers responsibility to create a work atmosphere that is free from sexual harassment, intimidation or hostility.

Prevention is worth more than a pound of cure

Prevention is always worth it more than a cure or tons of cases filed because there was no effective system in place to deal with sexual harassment in the first place. Employers must always communicate to their staff that any and all forms of harassment sexual or otherwise is not tolerable. A complaint and effective grievance system would work best, with actions appropriately taken once a complaint is filed by an employee.

5. Make an anti-sexual harassment policy

It would serve everyones good if a program in the workplace exists that outlines in detail the policy that the company stands for that is against sexual harassment and make every employee sign it. It is to be kept in each ones personnel file.

Employees should also be notified of their particular rights and to report immediately any incidents of sexual harassment. Of course, the atmosphere where employees air and file their complaints must be open and free from fear.

6. Train everyone concerned

Appropriately educating everyone in the workplace, from supervisors to managers to all of the employees concerned about their role in the company and their behavior while inside the workplace is important in establishing boundaries on how to act.

The issue is quite real and serious even today, and should not be brushed off as not important. It affects every aspect of the work environment and if not addressed appropriately it could bring down the law on the work place and could even financially affect the whole organization. It is important therefore to put in place pro-active measures to prevent unnecessary misunderstanding later on. If you can set a positive example the entire system will continue to run smoothly. If not, sexual harassment could crop up again and again.
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